The weather is getting warmer, and restaurants in cities across the United States are stretching out onto sidewalks. Why not bring a touch of Europe across the Atlantic and enjoy the fresh air? Well, for some, fresh air is what's at issue. Smokers, after spending a winter enduring the elements, are happy to enjoy a bit of comfort. With most cities passing smoking bans, outside has become the last option for a lot of us, and outdoor dining almost always leads to ill will.
I was out on my front stoop a few nights ago, cigar in hand – as I've done for the past two years at this location. Customers at Bistro Cassis, a few doors down, complained loudly and in shrill voices, "You can't do that! It's blowing right at us!" Well, I reminded her, it's a public place, and I can do what I want. I continued to enjoy my cigar, though I moved back a little bit, so the building would provide some cover. Routinely, staff at the restaurant has been unnecessarily rude, perhaps in an attempt to show some advocacy for guests. Routinely, the staff fails.
Had she asked nicely, of course, I would have gladly relocated to the benches on Central Park West, a block away. Most cigar smokers seem to share this attitude. Ask nicely, and we'll accommodate the best we can. Demands and rude tones tend not to yield the desired results.
Smoking bans are an easy target for cigar smokers (and, for that matter cigarette smokers), and I admit, our community gripes about them a bit too much. We're past the point of being productive, and dwelling on the injustice feels like a waste of time. The fight for outdoor spaces, however, is a very real outcome of the prohibition on indoor smoking. Without locations where we can partake of our chosen luxury, we're forced outside. Though the laws vary, most do not prohibit smoking on sidewalks. So, that's where we go, disrupting dining experiences as a result.