So, the big conversation at the bar last week was the signing of the Smoking Ban in New Jersey. By mid-April, cigarette smoking will be a thing of the past in New Jersey bars and restaurants, just as it’s been in New York (and 9 other states) for the past few years. Since the New York smoking ban, the ability to light up in Jersey has been if not exactly a draw, certainly a happy perk for many hipsters travelling from NYC to Hoboken to see a show at the club where I sling.
My bosses aren’t thrilled about the ban for a number of reasons: They don’t appreciate being told what to do in their place of business, they’re concerned about loss of revenue and mostly, about what the neighbors are going to think of the smokers who will now congregate outside to light up. They’re also pissed about the corrupt hypocrisy that will leave New Jersey casinos exempt from the ban, but that’s moot to me.
I couldn’t be happier or more excited. If they passed a law mandating dollar-per-drink tipping, I wouldn’t be as thrilled as I am at the prospect of a smokeless place of work. For numerous reasons. First, and most obviously, I can now go home at the end of the night and get right into bed instead of having to take a shower to get the smoke stink off of me. I can breathe easier knowing I won’t be inhaling second hand smoke all night long. Please note this is something I never complained about because, yes, it was my choice to become a bartender and I knew full well what that entailed. But that doesn’t change the fact that despite never having smoked in my life, my lungs probably think I do a pack or three a week.
From the bartender’s perspective, it’s going to make our lives easier (no more dealing with matches, change for the cigarette machine or ashtrays)... and your drinks a lot nicer, too. Lemme ‘splain. Since we’ll no longer have to clean out ashtrays a hundred times a night (including wiping up ash off the bar from smokers who think that the ashtray is a general target area rather than a specific desitination for the residue), the odds that our hands will be sullied with the carcinogenic material becomes nil. So, when we touch the fruit to garnish your cocktail, the only grime will come from the money we’ve been handling (okay, that’s probably worse than ash, but still).
But you know what I’m happiest about? That my friends (co-workers and customers) are going to have to smoke less. Anything that curtails that deadly activity is fine with me. And it’s going to be HILARIOUS watching the kids too young to drink struggle to find some new way to seem older. Maybe the guys will complain about their prostates while the gals debate botox injections...