New York City bar owner Michael Sinensky wishes Baltimore lots of luck as Maryland enacts its new smoking ban this month.
“Whoever thought of the law was probably a non-smoker,” says Sinensky, owner of Manhattan’s Village Pourhouse and Proof Bar & Lounge. He’s happy to recount the drama he’s encountered as a business owner since New York State enacted a ban in 2003.
It’s not his businesses that have suffered, he explains, but rather the residents above New York City bars and restaurants who must put up with late-night (often drunken) cell phone calls, an occasional sidewalk scuffle and, of course, smoke wafting up to their open windows—not to mention pedestrians who have to wrangle through groups of smokers that commonly gather outside for a nicotine fix between beers or courses.
While it’s too soon to say how Baltimore’s bars, restaurants, and residents will fare in the wake of the new regulations—part of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Clean Indoor Air Act of 2007—one thing’s for sure: Smoking in most public places around the state will soon seem like ancient history. So will smoking in private clubs with liquor licenses.
Only tobacco retailers will be exempt under the new law, which means that cigar bars and other similar businesses will need to apply for a waiver, according to Dr. Clifford S. Mitchell, an environmental health physician with DHMH.
As for other establishments panicking about the smoking ban, a provision in the regulations does allow businesses to apply to local health departments for a temporary waiver from certain Clean Indoor Air Act provisions. All of this hubbub, maintains DHMH, is to protect public health—and the health of those working in previously smoky establishments.
One person particularly happy with the New York City ban, however, is Sinensky’s wife. He used to come home from his late nights smelling like an ashtray. “It would wake her up because I stunk so bad,” he laughs. Now he comes home smelling like a whole ‘lotta nothing—something a lot of Maryland’s non-smokers will be happy to breathe in for a long time to come.