Liz Erk (lizerk) wrote,
Liz Erk

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I have a bunch of things I need to write about on here, but I have yet to get to them. (I guess my company expects work from me, since they're paying me...)

For now, I'm posting this article. T-Minus 21 days until it happens here!! Woo hoo! After the nastiness I coughed up after my night out at Club Hollywood, I can't WAIT!!!
Drop the cigarette! Smoke-free NYC

Smoking is now banned in Big Apple bars, restaurants

By Christine Haughney

April 9 — Marjorie and Corey Jonas treated themselves to a three-hour dinner last Sunday and, for the first time, the longtime patrons of New York’s Telephone Bar & Grill were actually able to smell their pub grub. Then they lingered over drinks to celebrate the city’s new smoking ban.

‘Personally, I prefer to go home smelling like a person [rather] than an ashtray.’

“YEEAAAHHH — no more smoke,” cheered Marjorie Jonas from her bar stool in the East Village joint. “I’ve never been able to see from this end of the bar to the other.”

As the Jonases nodded at the empty stools lining the Telephone’s bar, they conceded that the ban may keep some regulars away — and catch unwary travelers to the city off-guard.

“The hard-core smokers will really be [upset] for a few days and say, ‘I’m not going to eat. I’m not going to drink,’ ” said Corey Jonas. “Then they’ll get hungry and thirsty.”

Bartender Jodi Sacks said she lived through a similar smoking ban in Boulder, Colo., and is confident the regulars will return. “If anything, it would be temporary. . . . Personally, I prefer to go home smelling like a person than an ashtray.”

New York’s smoky-bar era drew to a close March 30 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg struck smoking from the city’s Saturday night peach martini and sling-back chair equation. Smoking was already banned in most workplaces, but the latest law extends to bars, restaurants and hotel lobbies. The only exceptions are a few cigar bars and membership clubs with no paid employees.

While some bars and restaurants still appear to have their share of inhaling offenders, that could change shortly. Spots caught with smoking customers face fines starting at $250 and the loss of their food licenses; a number of smaller bars say the fines could shut them down.

Though officials say they won’t officially start issuing fines until May 1, many establishments say they’re already dealing with overzealous health inspector fines; quadrupled fees for having outdoor cafes; and dance police ready to fine bars without cabaret licenses where customers make the slightest illegal wiggle.

And come July 24, New York becomes the third state (after California and Delaware) to adopt a statewide smoking ban. So before packing those Marlboro Lights for a big-city weekend, here’s what every social smoker and pack-a-day puffer should know:

Beware of hotel policies. Visitors can still smoke in hotel rooms approved for smoking, but the activity is limited elsewhere. For instance, the historic Algonquin Hotel in midtown no longer permits smoking in its bar or outside any of its meeting rooms.

“People know they can smoke outside of the building,” said Christina Zeniou, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. The Algonquin, she noted, has added ashtrays outside of its entrances for people to throw out their cigarettes.

Know where you can — and can’t — smoke. The ban doesn’t apply to cabs and sidewalks, and customers can smoke in outdoor cafes as long as the smoking area takes up a quarter of the seating area.

“It’s terrible,” said Patrice Lerochereuil, a 46-year-old artist who reluctantly finished off his daily cigar at Finelli’s Café in SoHo on Day 1 of the ban after the bartender said she could be fired for his smoking. “I will still smoke in my place, on the street.”

Blocks away at the more subdued Cub Room restaurant and bar, manager Tim Carosi said the smoking ban adjustment has been smooth. Instead of hanging up “No Smoking” signs, restaurant workers are personally asking customers not to smoke. Carosi rebutted concerns that customers may order fewer drinks because they can’t have that final smoke.

“We were joking, it’s possible people may eat more,” he said.

Search out the exceptions to the rule. Depending on when they opened and the percent of business derived from the on-site sale of tobacco products, some cigar bars are exempt from the ban. The Oak Bar at the Plaza Hotel and Club Macanudo on the Upper East Side still offer visitors a place to put on a cigar-puffing swagger. Circa Tabac, a SoHo cigarette bar, hosted a “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!” party and started plans to update its ventilation system and renovate its space, said co-owner Lee Ringelheim.

Call ahead to avoid surprises. Many bars known for a “cigar-friendly” atmosphere — like Morton’s of Chicago — don’t meet the exemptions. Cibar, a Gramercy Park martini lounge once known for cigar smoking, no longer allows it, but customers can smoke in its garden.

Brace yourself for a pricey cigarette tax. Smokers heading to Manhattan may want to adopt a bring-your-own-cigarettes policy, as a new tax enacted last summer has driven up prices to more than $5 a pack — and $7.50 isn’t uncommon.

Still, even some non-smokers worry about how the ban will transform the city.

“Now New York is, like, nerdy,” said Coan Nichols, a 31-year-old filmmaker, as he lingered at the smoke-free Old Town Bar in Union Square with his wife, Bella Pilar, and buddy Jack Fitzgerald. “When you’re in a bar, it’s going to be like California. All the action is outside.”
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
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