I’m a cigar smoker. At times in my life, I’ve also smoked cigarettes. I remember the olden days when smokers lit up in restaurants, theater lobbies, the office, the computer lab, and even airplanes! Now you can’t light up a cigarette – much less a cigar – in just about ANY public place. In Seattle, all outdoor public spaces are now non-smoking. Parks, beaches – all non-smoking. Non-chewing too. This is a change from the 25′ rule that has been in place since 2010. Activists are upset about it – not for the civil liberty reasons you might expect. They are upset because the homeless who live on the streets and in parks in droves could be fined for using tobacco products in these same places they are illegally squatting. So everyone looks the other way when you urinate or deficate in a park if you’re homeless but you darned well better not light up! At least not a tobacco product!
I’m not advocating a return to the olden days. As a smoker, I try to be considerate. At home I enjoy cigars out on our deck – even if that means at times I’m bundled up like Nanook of the North. I’ve even taken to burning incense to minimize the offense to any neighbors who might be downwind.
Signs like these and ordinances to back them up are commonplace in most big cities. Some cigar lounges do exist, but in many states, including Washington State, they basically only exist on tribal lands. Tribal casinos are some of the only establishments in our state to welcome smokers. Lit Lounge at Snoqualmie Casino is the only dedicated cigar lounge I’ve found locally. My wife, the blackjack ninja often plays at the table with smokers (cigar smokers too). Most will politely ask if others mind if they smoke (unless they already see others doing so). My wife, an avid non-smoker will rightly reply “It’s a smoking establishment, I knew that when I came in, so yes, you are welcome to smoke, but I appreciate you asking.”
Even e-cigarettes or vaping is not welcome most places in Seattle. Sure, for the time being they are exempt from the “no smoking outdoors” rule, but new proposed regulations in our state could make the rules here the toughest in the nation. No Vaping has been added to the recorded announcements for the ferry system and banned in other businesses even though all that is released is water vapor – no harmful chemcials or nicotine!!
As you can tell, I live in Washington State. I also happen to live in Seattle. Yep, one of the pot capitals of the good ol’ USA. There are SO MANY “medical marijuana” dispensaries in Seattle that there is a “Weed Map” – yep, you read that right, a “Weed Map”. I don’t know how many seriously ill people must live in the Seattle area to justify this many green crosses but I lost count as I drove down 1st Avenue this afternoon. There’s a private club that once had a cigar lounge. Now it hosts “Ganja Goddess“. I don’t smoke pot but I know of several places where those over 21 can go smoke pot because the signage is BIG and conspicuous. I know plenty of small businesses that would love to get approval for this type of signage for their businesses!
On the main bridge to our house, there are no less than THREE billboards promoting some sort of marijuana business.
There is a marijuana food truck called “Magical Butter” so you can EAT your pot for lunch! While at PAX this past weekend handing out postcards for my SciFi novel, Mission Veritas, I saw the “mobile marijuana lounge” parked out in front of a major downtown hotel! Smoking pot in Seattle is now a tourist attraction!
Smoking pot has long been compared to drinking alcohol and either can get you arrested for “driving under the influence”. Both are mind-altering substances for adults only. There is a lot of noise made about second-hand smoke even though many of us grew up in homes where at least one parent smoked and we’re still alive and well. What about the driver of the mobile marijuana lounge? Is second-hand smoke an issue there? In the case of tobacco, your health may be impacted, but not your mental state or your reflexes. That’s why tobacco smoking does not fall under the “driving under the influence” statutes – at least NOT YET!
My reason for bringing this all up is to point out the ongoing hypocrisy of the “anti-smoking” world. Truth is, they are not “anti-smoking” – just anti-tobacco. Even the hookah lounges were threatened with forced closure recently until the Mayor and City Council backed down when faced with a crowd of angry voters who called them racists. States, cities, local municipalities, even health departments all get in the act of banning smoking – tobacco smoking that is – everywhere they can – yet they TAX IT so they BENEFIT from it at the same time.
Time to go relax on the deck with my laptop and a cigar – while I still can!!!!!