At midnight last night, smokers in bars across New Orleans put out their cigars, cigarettes, and pipes as the city’s late-coming smoking ban flamed into effect. After years of debate, the city known as “The Big Easy” passed legislation making things a little harder on smokers: if they want to light up, it will be outside a bar. (Ordering your beer or alcoholic slushie “to-go” is, thankfully, still kosher.) It’s a sad day for many -- those who feel such a ban is out of place in a city known for its indulgent and permissive atmosphere -- but a boon to others, like musicians or waiters who might resent such a hazy workplace, or non-smokers who had formerly limited their patronage the city’s few voluntarily non-smoking bars.
But for the die-hards -- the nicotine-stained fingertip crowd, the unrepentant pack-a-day-purists --there are still places in the world (even in ban-happy New York) where’s it’s free, legal, and easy to smoke. Did you think airport smoking lounges were a think of the past? Not at Denver International, where the Smokin’ Bear Lodge Lounge welcomes patrons to puff (as long as they reach a $5 tab minimum). In Los Angeles, the Tiki-Ti Cocktail Lounge is a “smoky, crowded” tiki bar that nevertheless is a fun ‘n’ dingy throwback to a pre-ban era (all the staff are family and that skirts the ban, apparently…). New York, surprisingly, offers a bevy of options for the nicotine-inclined: the Biergarten at the Standard Highline is outside, and welcomes smokers, while Circa Tabac is a SOHO smoking bar that escapes the city’s smoking ban by making at least 10% of its income from tobacco. Or, you could go just about anywhere in China, where a state-owned tobacco company and lax regulation of minimal restrictions mean the nation is -- for better or (likely) worse -- your ashtray.
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