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The Great Debates Smoking in
Restaurants


Reader Feedback:
Your article on smoking in restaurants hits the nail on its head. Even in these parts (here in the Philippines), we are running into these "nuisance" guests a lot. The bad news is that legislation in our country is very weak. In fact, with all these tobacco companies doing great business here, it seems our statesmen are even encouraging this nasty habit. To add to that, the cigar craze is only starting in Manila. We've already encountered guests who refuse to extinguish their cigars in our dining area.

Our only hope (like yours) is that the smokers themselves be more considerate to the other customers around them.

Lito Benitez
General Manager
CAFE RIZAL


**Next Post

I enjoyed reading your article regarding the two ladies who smoked throughout your dinner. May I say that I don't really agree with your attitude towards them. It's not as if they set out to ruin everyone's dinner by consciously lighting up every couple of minutes. Smoking is a habit and one of the hardest to break. I'm just guessing but you've probably never smoked and never will, that's great. However, there are people that start smoking(usually for stupid reasons) and realize after a few years (or decades) that they want to quit their habit and can't that easily. You seemed a little more than annoyed judging by the tone of your article. I know it's hard not to take these things personally and you might argue that you didn't. You did.

I used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area and found it irritating when I could not smoke ANYWHERE in an establishment I wanted to dine in. In Los Gatos CA you can't smoke while walking down the street. Yes, it is against the law to walk down some of the main streets with a lit cigarette in your mouth. That is absolutely absurd. Since then I have relocated to the Pacific Northwest where they realize that smokers are human beings like the rest of us. I smoke occasionally and when I do it's usually cigars. Here in the Seattle Area there are more than a few eateries that also offer cigars for their customers. I have truly enjoyed this and found these restaurants to be class establishments with wonderful atmospheres full of people laughing and having a great dining experience! Yes, there are sections segregating the smokers from the non-smokers which nobody seems to mind.

Though the two ladies were smoking, which I'm sure contributed to the degradation of your dining experience. Your attitude of hatred towards them surely did more to lessen your pleasure than the two ladies themselves! That seems a bit odd doesn't it? You mentioned the fact that cigarettes are killers. Stress is just as deadly a killer and affects everyone. Like the cigarette smoke blown in your face which disgusts you, your article shows how stressed out you are about the whole situation and stresses others out when they read it. Chill out! you'll live longer. If it bothers you that much, don't eat in restaurants that permit smoking, period.

Paul Del Vecchio


**Next Post

Bob Bradley responds to Paul's note...

Dear Paul:

I appreciated your letter. You took time to intelligently present your case, and you did a good job. The most important thing you said was to only visit no-smoking restaurants if it bothered me so much. In this regard, you are completely correct, and I'm partly to blame because I probably could have insisted on a no-smoking section. Please understand that we were guests, and it wasn't my place to insist upon anything.

In all due respect, it's important to note that you happen to be a smoker. It's interesting that every response we have received (and there have been many), always ends up as a smoker vs. the non-smoker. The "nons" love me and the smokers would like me to go away.

You were also correct that I was more angry than I admitted, although the word hate is much too strong. I would never ask someone to extinguish a cigarette, because I do respect their rights. However, I will absolutely stand behind my statements regarding the lack of courtesy demonstrated on a daily basis by so many people. We are a society totally lacking in manners, and I submit that the actions of people speak for themselves.

And regarding the stress, you are right again again. Stress is a killer, but if I had a choice between the stress and a tobacco addiction, I'd go with the stress.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to us, and visiting the Restaurant Report.

Sincerely,

Bob Bradley


**Next Post

I can certainly understand your annoyance at being seated next to two inconsiderate smokers. As a smoker myself, I find it extremely unpleasant when someone else allows their smoke to drift in a direct path to my face.

However, many restaurants, smoking and non, are populated with extremely rude and unpleasant customers. I find crying babies, heavy perfume, and loud people quite distasteful and sure-fire meal destroyers. When seated next to an unpleasant table, I just ask to be moved. If a restaurant has icky patrons often, I exercise my freedom of choice and don't go there.

While I would love to frequent a restaurant that does not allow children or perfume, and think that a restaurant owner should have every right to choose the regulations of his own establishment, I would not support legislation prohibiting cologne. We are a free society, and determine the success or failure of a business by choosing how we spend money. If a restaurant chooses to be scent-free, and enough people feel strongly about a perfumeless environment, that business will prosper. If not, the business will fail. That capitalism & free enterprise.

Yes, you'll argue, but perfume doesn't kill and smoking does. Well, so does alcohol- especially combined with driving, which people usually do in order to get to & from a restaurant. Should alcohol be banned? And I am extremely allergic to perfume, so there are health effects.

I have recently moved to California, and am not too happy with the ban on smoking in bars, although most of the places I frequent have graciously built an enclosed "patio" area for smoking, which allows me to continue to enjoy beverages and conversation without leaving the premises. (actually, they are much more pleasant than a smokey bar, in that they are usually well-ventilated. Smokers don't like the dense clouds of smelly smoke in a small room with bad ventilation any more than non-smokers do.)

I do resent not being allowed to light a cigarette after a meal, however. No, let me change that statement- I resent the government dictating that I cannot light a cigarette after a meal. Well before the ban on smoking, many restaurants chose to be smoke-free. I applauded their choice, and unless they were exceptional places, usually took my business elsewhere. Now, the restaurants that chose to cater to smokers no longer can. That is a little too "Big Brother" for comfort.

While you may welcome government infringement into smoking regulations, I'd like to know the name of your restaurant, so I can make certain to "choose" never to go there!


**Next Post

The idea that smoking is a "habit" is the cause of most of the confusion between smokers and non-smokers. It is an ADDICTION- (not just a habit), as is drug addiction and alcoholism. People go into nicotine withdrawal just as they do with alcohol, cocaine, crack, heroin or any other brain-altering substance when their bodies are deprived of their "drug of choice". The effects of nicotine withdrawal can be devastating, and under certain circumstances can be deadly. I can tell you from personal experience. Try this one: A three-pack-a-day smoker has a heart attack. Now his heart is trying to cope with the sustained damage while his brain is screaming for nicotine for the body. With arrhythmia already taking place it is now made worse by the withholding of the one substance that would have a calming effect on the body. Or would it in this case make it worse? Of course the victim is unconscious and has no control, so it's now a question of which outlasts the other, the heart or the brain. Good chance here that both lose. Point being that most smokers do not CONTINUE to smoke because they want to irritate other people or contract one of several cancers. They continue to smoke because they are UNABLE TO STOP. IT IS AN ADDICTION. Think about this definition of addiction..."Continues to use, with loss of control, despite adverse or lethal consequences". Most people do not want to live like this. An individual must recognize that the addiction is no longer their FAULT. But they are responsible for their own life and they have a CHOICE of whether or not to ASK FOR HELP!!! Thank you.
Ray S. (restaurant owner)

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