The ban: `They ruin everything'

At The Bars

February 27, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,Sun reporter

From his perch inside South Baltimore's Southside Saloon, Steve Voessel pulled on his cigarette of choice - a Marlboro - and proclaimed the City Council's decision last night to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants damaging to the vibrant social scene at many of the city's drinking establishments.

"I'll get liquor at the liquor store and go home and drink," said Voessel, 49, a two-pack-a-day smoker who picked up the habit on his wedding day at 27 and frequents the bar daily.

Nonsmoker's disdain

Nonsmoker Arthur Knipple, 53, who isn't much bothered by cigarette smoke, wasn't shy about broadcasting his disdain for the ban as he downed a glass of Coors Light at the bar's nearby video slot machine.

"It's too much government," he proclaimed. "They need to keep their noses out of people's business. You're going to see a lot of people turn Republican. They're tired of the Democrats' crap. They ruin everything."

At bars along Fort Avenue in South Baltimore, bar workers and patrons immediately weighed in last night on the pros and cons of the council's passage of the smoking ban.

Most smokers dubbed the ban a major spoiler. But some, such as bartender Amanda Riggin, 26, said the ban could do some good.

Aid to quitting

"I think it will help me stop smoking, honestly," said Riggin, who works at Lime, a tequila bar, and has been smoking for five years. "I only smoke when I'm in the bar."

Lime owner Brendon Smith, a nonsmoker, said he'll enjoy the smoke-free environment.

"I kind of wanted to see it pass," Smith said. "As long as everyone else is following the same rules, it's fine with me. When you wake up hung-over and you smell like smoke, it's awful."

Soon-to-be married couple Amina Peterson, 28, who smokes Newport Lights (but only when she's out at bars drinking), and her fiance Antwan Williams, 28, who doesn't smoke, both said the ban is a drag as they drank Absolute Mandarin's with orange juice at the Southside Saloon.

"I'm not going to want to go outside and smoke," Peterson said. "That's crazy. Especially when it's cold. I'll stay at home.

Like high school

At Hogan's Alley, a neighborhood mainstay for more than 30 years, bartender Wendy King predicted the ban won't have much of an effect on business but could be a distraction from the business of serving up drinks.

"I think it will be like high school," King said. "I think we'll have to police people. Especially in the women's bathroom, they'll be smoking up a storm."

For Hogan's regular John Quintana, 47, a Brooklyn plumber and a smoker "since I was 15, 16," the ban seems too restrictive for people who enjoy their drinks and smokes together.

"It does kind of tick me off," Quintana said, as he downed his fourth bottle of Budweiser with a pack of Marlboro Lights at his side.

"If there's nonsmokers and they don't like the secondhand smoke, don't come to the bar."

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