In our most recent podcast we noted that we’d had a postcard from Tom, a listener in Fort Collins Colorado. KandyA noted that Fort Collins is a global leader in banning smoking in public places and we asked Tom to report on how this was working out for them.
With admirable speed Tom has replied, and I thought I’d post it for the general readership:
You asked for information about Fort Collins anti-smoking laws, and so here goes. FYI, I’m a non-smoker but I hang out with a lot of smokers (and I can get pretty talkative, so this might be a long email). Hell, I was at a bar with my brother the smoker just last night. I’ts all sorts of timely.
Basically, about two years ago they made the rules so that smoking was outlawed in pretty much every public building, with some weird exceptions (the bars of bowling alleys, for instance).
Note that the ban is just in Fort Collins. Outside of city limits smoking is still allowed in restaraunts and bars, depending on the owners’ rules.
If Canberra is talking about such a ban, you may find that a lot of businesses are saying that a ban will hurt their bottom line. They’ll lose smoking customers, etc. In our case, it was said that a smoking ban would cause major customer loss to businesses outside of city limits.
However, if Canberra’s experience is the same as Fort Collins, that’s not the case. I read in a local newspaper (can’t find a link, sorry) that patronage of bars, restaraunts, music venues, etc, is actually rather significantly up. The ban may have driven some smokers outside the city, but their numbers were more than made up by the increased draw of other customers.
Smokers aren’t out of luck, though, because they can simply go outside and smoke — as long as they’re 20 feet from the front door or a ventilation system. Many bars have taken to drawing a line that indicates where smokers can stand.
What my smoking friends have told me about the ban and its effects on them is:
- sucks ass in the cold. Last night it was nearly -10F here (a balmy -23C), and that doesn’t count the windchill..
- when the weather is nicer, it’s actually not all that bad to be in a group of smokers. You always know where to go to bum a smoke, and you meet a lot of people you’d never associate with otherwise.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed since the ban is that you can go to a show or out to a bar and when you get home your clothes don’t smell like cigarette smoke. This is a Really Nice Thing. I’m sure you all go to music events at small venues and know what I’m talking about. Even my smoking friends like this.
My brother and I were in Washington DC a few months ago, and public smoking in bars and at concerts is something that struck us both as odd at first. After just over a year we were already totally accustomed to smoke-free places. Once the shock wore off, my brother lit up (“Look, I’m smoking inside!”). Later he admitted that he now preferred Fort Collins’ way of doing things, primarily because of the smoky-smelling clothes issue.
So that’s that. Net result is that smokers got used to it fast and see some benefits, it’s great for non-smokers (my girlfriend has
asthma and she used to hate going to bars), and businesses haven’t been hurt.
Please feel free to ask any questions. If I can’t answer it, I’m sure I can find someone who can.