Bon Voyage to Butts in Bistros
Markowitz, Jack, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
There is less reason to visit France now. You can't smoke in a bistro anymore. Not in one petite corner of a cafe, restaurant or night spot? Non!
A nationwide ban on indoor smoking in public places of refreshment and conviviality took effect the day after New Year's, inspiring all sorts of mixed feelings.
On the one hand, smoking is clearly bad for you -- the lungs, hearts, arteries, nasal passages and pocketbooks. Those who have quit the habit -- as everyone should and millions have -- tend to feel proud and believe they have not only extended life but pocketed money, which enhances it. The 20-cigarette package now costs $5 or so. Saved daily, just that might be a decent retirement.
But freedom has value, too. The liberty-loving mind coughs, hacks and spits over the idea of interfering with someone else's choice of recreations. The sole justification for a ban on smoking is that "second-hand smoke," what waiters and waitresses have to breathe, is bad for them, and scientifically proven so, we're told.
It seems that not even serious air-conditioning in a small corner of an indoor space can beat the danger.
So if you must smoke before, during or after a meal in a public place, out you go. Under the sky. Out where the honking taxis are, and the hurrying crowds holding their noses. And where a cigarette - - if memory serves -- doesn't taste nearly as good as it ought to. The aromatic fume is tasted best indoors, with a cup of coffee, a beer, a poker game, a television show. …