OMG, the world is ending!

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Well, they did it. Allegheny County Council went ahead and passed the smoking ban.

Anybody out there slitting their wrists over this?

I’m cool with it, and honestly could live with it either way. Sure, I’d LOVE not to come home from a restaurant, bar, or club smelling like a cigarette, and sure, I’d love not to have to breathe in what as a nonsmoker smells to me like pukish death. But I’d deal with it the same way I deal with it now — Tide with Febreeze and carefully timed breathing.

The vote was 11-1 (UPDATE:  Reader Matt H informs me the vote was actually 14-1), and that means if Danny O decides to veto, his veto will likely get overturned. Voting against was Richard Narone, or now The Smokers’ Hero!, who said:

“I’m a little concerned about passing legislation when you start taking rights of individuals away,” said Mr. Nerone, who is a non-smoker. “I honestly believe this is a state issue and should be taken care of at the state level.”

I totally understand his position on the state, however, please people stop talking about your RIGHT to smoke in a public place. If it is even a right, what about my right not to breathe in your noxious fumes? Fumes that if you smoke indoors, linger for all of us to inhale. So if somebody’s got to go outside, it should be the smokers so their smoke can just fly up to the clouds and dance away.

The article quotes a bartender:

Ms. Steenson said of the non-smoking ban: “This will really hurt. I’m worried we may have to cut down on the number of employees here. People will have to lose jobs.”

Lord, lady. Why don’t you give it a month before you start freaking out the employees of the bar with your, “Nobody is going to come here anymore if they can’t smoke!” message?

My question, if you are a smoker and there is a bar or establishment that you particularly like and are a regular at, if you can no longer smoke while you eat and drink there, will you simply continue to go there and maybe have a smoke outside or afterwards, or will you drive to another county, pick a new “regular” place, and never ever go back to where you used to go? Be honest about it. Really.

My hunch is that the smokers will adapt in the same way that they have in other cities.

And FINALLY (man, this post is long),

Council amended it last night so that nonprofit organizations can apply for a waiver to allow smoking at fund-raisers.

Anyone care to explain that one to me? Why do nonprofits need to allow smoking at fund-raisers? Why the nonprofits? Huh?


  1. Chris
    September 27, 2006 9:40 am

    Personally, I’m glad this is projected to pass. While I’ve dealt with it for years, I hate coming out of a bar/club and smell like smoke. Why should I spend more on cleaning costs because some jackass can’t kick their habit? I mean, you don’t see people in the middle of TGI Friday’s rubbing one out because they are addicted to porn…

    there’s nothing worse than a hot girl smoking. Totally kills it for me. And don’t give me the “I only smoke when I drink” bullsh**. Most of them drink five days a week….

  2. pittgirl
    September 27, 2006 9:45 am

    Okay, the porn line made me laugh. I’m really hoping some smokers chime in on this one, because I honestly would love to hear the other side, directly from the other side.

  3. PittDude
    September 27, 2006 10:03 am

    I’m not a smoker, so, I’m ok with the ban, too… but judging by what I see downtown every day, Pittsburgh IS a smoking town, so it’ll be interesting to see how these businesses are affected.

    And if you think people are freaking out now, just wait until they start banning trans fats in restaurants, like they’re proposing in New York…

  4. Zsa
    September 27, 2006 10:08 am

    Did I hear correctly – I thought they said this morning on DVE that the casinos would be EXEMPT from the smoking ban.

    That’s messed up on two levels – #1 it gives the casinos a break that bars won’t get. #2 if the council really passed this due to “public health” and “protecting workers” – it tells me they don’t care about the workers who will be in the casinos, which if what the casinos are saying will be majority African-American (cause that’s who lives by where the casinos will be built). Apply substitution (geometry does have a point) and ALLEGHENY COUNTY DOESN’T CARE ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE!!

    For everyone who’s saying “I’m so sick of smelling like smoke” and “cleaning costs” – it’s called showers, detergent and a washing machine. If you’re wearing your $200 shirts and skirts out to clubs that you have to send to the super special dry cleaner, that’s your incredibly dumb choice. I haven’t heard any guys/girls complain that they came home smelling like Eau de Cheap Whore and they were allergic.

    And I still haven’t heard – who’s going to reinforce this? If the bars are against it, and don’t do anything to stop people from smoking, what happens to them?

  5. Z
    September 27, 2006 10:16 am

    I am all for this. I physically cannot tolerate cigarette smoke…even a little so this is working for me. I DO avoid clubs because of the smoke…so I’ll be happy to be able to go and breathe free.

    As far as the non-profits go…you ever call BINGO by accident at one of those church bingo halls? Imagine telling those broads they can’t smoke? The humanity! It was interesting to note they can only get 12 exemptions…so those weekly games are screwed 3 out of 4 nights a month.

  6. Chris
    September 27, 2006 10:27 am

    Hey kanye, calm down. Do you honestly think that Pgh is a racist town?

    “it’s called showers, detergent and a washing machine” – why should I have to spend extra time in my limited day cleaning your early death out of my hair? Can I just scrub the second hand tar out of my respiratory system?

    It makes sense financially to allow casinos to allow smoking. Who will benefit the city more in taxes? A casino or a bar? or even several bars? So what do you do to increase their tax payouts? Ban smoking in public places. So people turn to where they can smoke, and even win money…The casinos make more money and, in turn, pay significantly more in taxes…

  7. joe
    September 27, 2006 10:40 am

    online gambling = illegal

    gambling in casinos = sure, here’s an atm machine. and we take credit cards too! howdamnconvenient!

    smoking in bars = illegal

    smoking in casinos = hellz yeah!

    that increased taxes revenue argument is such a crock of overused, overquoted sh!t. selective permission of “illegal” vices now? when will the strippers start at the casinos? or prostitution? hey, a crack bar!! yeah!!! after all, look how the casinos have made new jersey a great place to live.

    that sucking sound you hear is the family-friendly community pittsburgh possesses, going across state lines to live.

    i am an ex-smoker. but i still support individual freedom – something slowly, but surely, eroding in the states.

  8. Zsa
    September 27, 2006 10:58 am

    Chris, you didn’t mention “tar” so I assumed your major gripe was the smell factor. My bad.

    And are you telling me you DON’T think Pittsburgh is a racist town? Wow.

    I was kind of joking with my Kanye-ism, but kind of not. Considering this is the first I’ve heard of the casino exemption EVER in this, I think it’s been hushed up for a reason. (And yes, I realize it’s a state action, not a local one.) It would be one thing if this was a tribe-owned casino – they can have goats in garters if they want. But I agree with the rest of Joe’s post. It’s pretty hypocritical to say you’re “protecting” someone from something in a place they freely entered, while putting a casino (which may or may not turn into an Atlantic City style den of iniquity) within spitting distance of their house – and giving them no choice about it.

  9. Mark Denovich
    September 27, 2006 11:31 am

    I am a non-smoker, and I avoid most smoke ridden places, yet I disagree with the ban as I believe it is yet another example of government overreach. The ban unfairly restricts the rights of property/business owners, and their patrons. The public health angle (which is believe is the constitutional basis for the ban) is tenious at best (the dangers of second hand smoke are grossly overstated, and ignores the judgement of the individual) This is clearly a case of the majority forcing their opinion on the whole by way of the law.*

    I also believe that the market is not stupid. If there was a great demand for non-smoking establishments, they would exist in abundance.

    I think being worried about the economic effects is missing the real point. With each encroachment of the state, we as individuals are diminished. We must resist the nanny-state if we are to retain the core qualities that I associate with being an American.

    *The constituion exists to protect the rights of the minorty. The majority has no problem protecting its own.

  10. Tep
    September 27, 2006 11:33 am


    Individual freedom’s aren’t being taken away. Everybody still has the right to smoke, just not in certain places. I have the right to shoot a gun, just not in people’s faces. So you should also not have the right to smoke in my face.

  11. Julie
    September 27, 2006 11:34 am

    As a non-smoker, I am excited about this because it may mean that I won’t avoid certain establishments that I may have before because I didn’t want to come home smelling like an ashtray. Maybe it will actually increase business – bring on the non-smokiness!

  12. Jon
    September 27, 2006 11:34 am

    In related news… “Cow Manure Banned From Local Farms” Said one farm employee, “I hate coming home and smelling like !@#$.” CMU researcher “Cow manure contains toxic methane gas”, “We predict 10 million people a year die because of exposure to methane.”

    Meanwhile farmers in WV are watching with delight, many believe prices for local produce will go through the roof now that PA’s major fertilizer source has been banned.

  13. pittgirl
    September 27, 2006 11:35 am

    Tep, that totally needs to be a t-shirt.

    “Everybody still has the right to smoke
    Just not in certain places.
    I have a right to shoot a gun,
    Just not in people’s faces.”


    Also, I think that Mark makes some very good points from his side of the issue.

  14. Jon
    September 27, 2006 11:50 am

    Mark, Amen brother. The Constitution means nothing to most people nowadays.

  15. Ron
    September 27, 2006 11:52 am

    I think the reason for Council’s exemption for non-profits is so the Pittsburgh Charities can still hold their smokers at the hotels and the Duquesne Club…

  16. Chris
    September 27, 2006 11:53 am

    wait wait, I’m not condoning the practice of “selective vices”. I was simply stating this is what it sounds like. As for prostitution and strippers – how about Vegas? How many people vacation there? “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. Ever heard of the Bunny Ranch? Hell, it has its own HBO series! I’m not saying its right, but its already happening.

  17. PittinDC
    September 27, 2006 11:56 am

    I’m originally from Pittsburgh, but live in DC now for school and work. They’ve passed a smoking ban in most of the surrounding counties of DC, and the DC smoking ban goes into effect in January. I haven’t heard of any businesses really being hurt by it. Some, like hooka bars and cigar bars, obviously got exemptions. But all of my friends that smoke go to the same places they always did, they just stand outside to smoke the cigarette. People aren’t running to VA to drink just cause they can smoke there. People go where they like and what they are familiar with, and they adapt from there. So I’m sure the Pgh bars will be fine. The streets will just be a little more crowded!

  18. bern1
    September 27, 2006 12:02 pm

    As a non-smoker, I do probably two packs a day second-hand smoke.

    Anybody know when the ban is supposed to take effect?

    And, will it affect private clubs (speakeasies) like the Polish Falcons, VFW, etc.? … Probably not. (not that I go to such places — but lots of people do)

    “Who’s going to enforce it?” — good question.

  19. Zsa
    September 27, 2006 12:10 pm

    Bern –

    The ban takes place 90 days from the date of signing – which would be the day after Christmas.

  20. L
    September 27, 2006 12:20 pm

    I’m a pack-and-some-change-a-day smoker, so I’ll weigh in here from the smoker perspective (or at least from mine); it’s not really a huge deal. In terms of inconvenience, yeah–it’s gonna suck a little to have to go outside, but at least it’ll help me cut down. And even as a smoker, I’ve gotten home from some bars and been grossed out by how much I reeked, so I suppose it’ll cut down on that, too. I don’t really think this ban is going to keep smokers at home, and it might even bring out some fragile-lunged nonsmokers who might not have come out otherwise. Just do me a favor and don’t get all ranty with me for huddling close to the door in January, okay?

  21. pete
    September 27, 2006 12:26 pm

    The Casinos are exempt by a state law the dear legislature passed, or is thinking of passing today- not sure. The County ordinance does not exempt casinos – but the state law expressly says that all “local ordinances” are overrode.
    The ordinance does affect “private clubs” such as the VFWs and the Duquesne Club and all country clubs for that matter.
    The issue no one is talking about is the clause that requires smokers to stay 15 feet away from businesses (bars, clubs, etc.) – the question becomes, “Can anyone find 15 feet of free space away from a pub on Carson St. that isn’t in the middle of the road? And what about neighborhood bars where zoning is ridiculous? You have bars next door to residences – so a smoker would have to stand in front of Grandma’s house to light up.

  22. Anthony
    September 27, 2006 12:31 pm

    Back to PittGirl’s original question, as a smoker I will still go to the usual places. I will adapt and most likely go outside and smoke with the BARTENDERS and WAITSTAFF. But if people think second hand smoke is the greatest health risk they face at a bar or restaurant, they’ve obviously never been in a bar or restaurant kitchen.

    But I am also of the opinion that if there was such a great demand for non-smoking bars, some enterprising person would have opened a few of them by now. A good number of Pittsburgh’s restaurants stopped offering smoking sections a while ago. Why? Because of that nifty little freemarket/supply and demand thing we have in this country.

    Maybe I just have a problem with “Jumpin Johnny” DeFazio being the voice of good health.

  23. BNG
    September 27, 2006 12:35 pm

    I smoke about 5-7 squares a day and I am a diehard social smoker. I love to smoke when I drink. That said, I think the smoking ban is great! You get used to it, and the bars are much cleaner. I’ve been to a bunch of cities with the ban (NYC, Austin, San Diego, even Wilimington, Del.) and its fine. Sucks a little in the winter, but whatever, you get used to it.

  24. Mia
    September 27, 2006 12:51 pm

    I smoke, but thankfully do not live in Allegheny County. I do not have a problem with restaurants who do not offer a smoking section. That alone will not make me stop going there. Bars and clubs?? That’s a more difficult call. Smoking and drinking just go hand in hand for most of us that do smoke. I’d spend the entire night outside, coming in to refresh my drink – that is assuming they have a designated smoking section outside that is still contained so I can take my drink out with me…if I have to leave the drink inside and go out and have my smoke… yeah chances are I’d quit going there.

    I was at a bar in Vancouver a few years ago, there is no smoking in any bar there (or at least that’s what the locals told me). They had a deck in the back, fenced in so you can take your drink out with you, roof over your head so you don’t get rained on, and they had heaters on the ceiling so you don’t totally freeze in the winter. I didn’t have a problem going outside in that case.

    I understand you not wanting to breathe in my smoke, I understand you not wanting to go home smelling like smoke when you don’t smoke, and I don’t have a problem not smoking around you – as long as you are polite about it. Although, to be fair, there are a lot of not so polite smokers as well.

    What I really want to know, aren’t there a few “cigar bars” in Pittsburgh? What happens to them?

    As for why the non profits get to allow smoking for their fund raisers – well just in case I decide I’m not going to their fund raiser if I can’t smoke – they want to make sure I still go and bring my checkbook. It’s all about the money.

  25. pittgirl
    September 27, 2006 12:55 pm

    According to the article, most specialty cigar bars will be exempt.

  26. bern1
    September 27, 2006 1:20 pm

    How ’bout hookah bars?

    And, thanks, Zsa, for your answer. Wanna burn one?

  27. pete
    September 27, 2006 1:23 pm

    hookah bars are exempt

  28. Mia
    September 27, 2006 1:28 pm

    So can I go into a Cigar bar and smoke my cigarettes? If that’s the case the cigar bars and going to become much more popular.

  29. pittgirl
    September 27, 2006 1:34 pm

    Mia, other cities that have smoking bans have clauses that state that smoking of cigars and pipes is permitted in cigar bars, but the smoking of cigarettes is not. Who knows what that means for the Burgh, though. I’m sure someone is going to pipe in any second with the real answer to this one.

  30. joe
    September 27, 2006 1:34 pm

    automobiles and buses produce more harmful smoke and emissions than smokers. ban them too? i think the gun comment is a poor and incorrect analogy. guns are designed for protection, hunting, and the like. cigarettes are designed purely for the pursuit of personal satisfaction… much like alcohol. don’t you think that organizations like MADD would be supportive of an alcohol ban? what happens when all of the sheep begin quantifying the cost of injury and death from alcohol? “Baaaa-aaa-aaa baaan it. Baaan it. we have to ban alcohol.” And there goes your personal freedoms.

    i no longer smoke, so it really doesn’t matter to me. but you *are* losing personal freedoms by permitting others to lose their’s.

    i’ll admit, the smoking ban in nyc when i was there worked out just fine. people went outside, and it was still very social. additional worries about who is watching your drink at the bar / table. losing your seat when you go outside to burn one. when you get home, you still smell like smoke and booze – so don’t kid yourself there…

    i no longer go into pittsburgh bars for reasons other than smoke. by and large, pittsburghers are not as friendly compared to residents in other regions (dc, nyc, southern states, etc). the whole denim jeans, sporting ink, slopping beer scene is lame. fat chicks with their thongs and bellies hanging out, fat dudes with their guts and unshaven faces spilling over the tshirts and flannel. parking is too expensive. public transportation is unreliable. meh. give me the 18th street lounge in DC any day. or korova in the east village.

    i think i de-emphasized my point about the pgh casinos. would you raise your children in vegas? will you see me at the casinos? nope. i live here, own investment property, and love pittsburgh / the rust belt because it *is* family friendly. if i wanted to live in vegas… you know what? i’d move to vegas. in my opinion, casinos in the region will do nothing more than cause an already under-employed, under-salaried population to spend their money in establishments where the 2nd round spending of their earnings will NOT be in direct support of their neighbors, but in the coffers of the state, regulatory agencies, and delaware corporations.

  31. Maria
    September 27, 2006 1:44 pm

    No smoking 15 feet from an entrance translates into no smoking period on Carson St. If this were seriously enforced, how could you even walk down the street with a lit cigarette?

  32. pittgirl
    September 27, 2006 1:49 pm

    You could walk down the middle of the street. :) Totally joking with you. But how awesome would it be if smokers on Carson Street just started smoking on the double yellow line to prove a point. Or, if they stood on the sidewalk, inhaled, then ran into the middle of the street and exhaled, and then repeated. Awesome.

  33. bern1
    September 27, 2006 1:54 pm

    This has a lot of potential. Turn on the Webcam!

  34. Mia
    September 27, 2006 1:57 pm

    I have to agree with Joe, it is Big Brother stepping in to “protect” the masses at the surface and take a little more control/freedom away from the masses at the core. It is not the governments job to protect my from myself. As for the protecting you from my second hand smoke – the last I heard, which admittedly could be incorrect, but the last I heard the second hand smoke only causes long term damage when you are around it constantly – all day every day, day in and day out – basically if you are living with a smoker. So what’s next? Is big brother going to tell me I can’t smoke in my own home? Or perhaps I’ll only be able to smoke in my own home IF I don’t have any minors living in my house?

    I don’t care about the ban itself, I really don’t, I just don’t think it’s the government business. It should be left to the individual business owners and their employees and patrons. If I decide I will allow smoking at my business, that should be my business. My employees had the choice to apply for employment here – they knew there was smoking here. My patrons know I permit smoking here and have the choice to come in or not.

    We are not talking about $50,000/yr jobs here, I doubt most of the employees in the restaurants and bars are making little more than minimum wage – except perhaps the high end restaurants – so we aren’t talking about keeping someone from working because of my decision to allow smoking, they can get another job elsewhere that does not have smoking if that is their choice.

    So how exactly has this become the governments business?

  35. Mia
    September 27, 2006 2:08 pm

    Oh and I almost forgot – what the heck is the difference between my cigarette and one of those fowl smelling cigars?!?! I wonder if we could get a case for prejudice there? I’m sure given enough time Edgar Snyder will be on that! lol

  36. Awesome Comet
    September 27, 2006 2:12 pm

    I have unbridled enthusiasm for this bill. Aside from the public health benefits and personal convenience, I think when people hear that Pittsburgh is one of those smoke-free cities, it will turn on a light somewhere, “Oh … you mean they’re like one of THOSE places? Who’d a thunk it?”

    My question: will the opening of the casinos placed so near in time to the smoking ban lead to a situation in which, rather than the number of public smokers slowly eroding by attrition, will it lead to our new casino being a smoker’s mecca, and absolutely rife with fumes? That’d be cool…

  37. pittgirl
    September 27, 2006 2:17 pm

    I’m a smoking snob, because while I can’t stand the smell of cigarettes, when a man walks by me having smoked a pipe, I want to hug him because I love the smell and it reminds me of my grandfather. Clearly I’m a hypocrite.

  38. Mia
    September 27, 2006 2:47 pm

    Oh absolutely, pipes smell wonderful, they clearly smell better than either cigarettes or cigars, but you must admit that a cigarette doesn’t smell nearly as horrid as a cigar.

  39. Tep
    September 27, 2006 2:50 pm

    By definition MADD would be all for a drinking and driving ban. Not necessarily a ban on alcohol. And you’ve used a slippery slop fallacy to conclude that buses and cars might be next, along with alcohol. You can go to a bar/restaraunt and not drink alcohol, but it’s tough to go to a bar/restaraunt and not get smoke fumes, regardless of the magnitude of their danger.

    What is the government for if not to look out for its citizens. The ban was put to a democratic vote, and the elected (I assume they are elected by the people, no? I could be wrong here)city council officials voted yes. Where’s the taking away of rights?

  40. L
    September 27, 2006 3:09 pm

    Actually, Tep, the jury’s still out on MADD and what they represent. Check the Wikipedia article on MADD:

    Yes, the article is disputed, but I’ve heard these things before about MADD. All I’m saying is that some members of that organization are definitely for a ban on alcohol.

    Anyway, sorry to get so off-track. Also I’m going to make fun of you for saying “slippery slop.” Best. Typo. Ever.

  41. Tep
    September 27, 2006 3:16 pm

    Ha, yea, getting kind of sloppy these days.

    Good point about MADD, should be called MAA.

  42. Chris
    September 27, 2006 3:34 pm

    How does the fact that you can’t take any beverage outside of a bar onto the street differ than you not being allowed to smoke inside the bar? Is it all government overreach? I know they are ratifying these laws for different reasons, but it seems that the emotional outcome should be the same…I’m just curious.

  43. Zsa
    September 27, 2006 3:58 pm

    That would depend on why open container laws were passed to begin with. I don’t know if the businesses wanted it or the state, just because I’ve never known anything else. The issue here isn’t the thing that’s being done, it’s the fact that it’s being inflicted on a *privately owned business.* I mean, if KaufMacy’s downtown would have decided they wanted to allow smoking in that building, they could (up until now).

  44. Mia
    September 27, 2006 4:06 pm

    Chris – I’d say there are definate similarities, however the not taking the drink out of the bar can be linked to something that is illegal – at least an illegal that most people will agree with. If you are permitted to take your beer out of the bar with you, it makes it far easier if not more likely that you will take that beer into your car with you and be not only driving under the influence, but also with an open container and increasing that influence. Does that make it any more “right?” No probably not in the broadest sense.

  45. Pingback: Clearing the Air | Pennsylvania @ Ales Rarus

  46. richard
    December 8, 2006 8:09 am

    joe mentions in nis response that we smokers are not losing our rights becuse we can still smoke in certain places……tell me joe were are those certain places.
    will i be able to smoke in a restraunt?
    how about at a movie ? ballgame? how about all by myself in a hospital room that i am paying 2 grand a day for?.
    joe to be honest with you…before this bill is put in effect ,the only places i can smoke is the break room at work ,home , outside and bars and restraunts that have smoking sections.i dont go to bars so i have 4 places .when passed it will be home and outside.
    the truth of this is that we have not been able to smoke in public place for decades.Some people wont be happy until smokers are left with just smoking at home,
    wait san fransico is trying to stop that too!
    if you and the government want to stop smokers , ask them too make tobacco illegal to sell and grow

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