Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cityview: Second-hand consequences

The Des Moines-area alternative newspaper Cityview has published a cover story I authored examining some of the effects of the smoking ban -- such as how it has hurt rural bars.

Here is Cityview:

When Frank Sinatra, one of America's most famous smokers, died (at age 82, baby), one tribute observed that thousands of men on thousands of bar stools would no longer be able to ask, "What would Frank do?"_

Sinatra expired in 1998, and we've made it a decade without the philosopher-king of love and loss, the crooner with spot-on instincts in the world of handling a punch in the gut and making it to work the next day._

For the last eight months, with a nearly complete statewide indoor smoking ban in effect, many Iowans have been in something of a prolonged mourning for the passing of Sinatra's defiant prop, the barroom cigarette.

An underappreciated part of our culture, particularly in rural and working-class reaches of the Hawkeye State, died last July 1. Small-town and working-class bars are supposed to be a bit irreverent, dimly lit places to escape the bully boss, pending divorce, or the drudgery of a Working Joe life. Smoking is a part of this for many Iowans - or it least it was (legally) until last summer.

"I'm not justifying smoking, but it was part of the culture," said Paul Lasley, chairman of both the Sociology and Anthropology departments at Iowa State University. "This disruption of social life in a small community is one of the unintended consequences of the smoking ban."

To read the rest of my story in Cityview, click here.

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