By a 12 to 1 margin, the DC City Council has expanded the city’s smoking ban to include restaurants, so long as business does not drop by 25%. Bars and clubs will also be required to add ventilation or separate accommodations by 1 January 2007, though the requirements are NOT currently waived for cigar and hookah bars, Councilman Graham is working on an amendment for the second reading on 3 January 2006.
I do not speaking for Metroblogging at large, nor this site as a whole, but as a citizen and independent of the site I write for, I welcome this move and congratulate the DC Council for making the right decision. Second-hand smoke is really one of the most frustrating thing about going out to a bar or club, and I will probably work to take advantage of this more, now that I can go out and have a great dinner and a few drinks in a local establishment without coming home reeking of second hand smoke and tobacco. I hope that the amendment allowing hookah bars and cigar bars to continue to allow their patrons to smoke continues, though, as those are places clearly designed for the purpose of smoking.
Many will say that this threatens the local eateries and bars in the District. Data from Montgomery County suggests the oppposite:
in the 12 months after the smoking ban took effect in October 2003, state sales tax receipts for Montgomery restaurants grew by $4.4 million or 7.6 percent, compared to the 12 months leading up to the ban. Applications to open new restaurants in the county also increased from 80 to 87, up 8.7 percent, according to the county’s public health service.
While data is not conclusive (and some data is in fact contradictory), I would have to say that I firmly believe this to be good for the city, and good for metropolitan area at large. Perhaps Arlington County and PG County should follow?
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs