"What do you think of the smoking ban?"
That's all I heard for the month of June while behind the bar. Not that it wasn't awesome when on the day Gov. Doyle signed the smoking ban I awoke to hear a crazy woman running outside my apartment screaming, "Breathe, Milwaukee, breathe!"
However, it is a legitimate debate. Of course, the non-smokers are happy, they don't smoke. It is also amusing to see the divide between smokers, themselves; it's like watching two housewives arguing over skim or 2 percent milk -- and that guy who can't tell the difference between the two and needs to quit drinking milk all together.
No matter what opinion anyone has, the smoking ban has arrived and now it is just a matter of working with it. As a smoker and a bartender, I can honestly say that smoking ban has at least something to prove as a good conversation starter. Smokers are corralled outside, all in a circle, which provides some interesting communal discussions. Maybe it will help all those socially awkward smokers to find other socially awkward smoker friends.
Regardless, it has become a new experience in bars and taverns in Milwaukee.
Personally, there are times I miss pouring an IPA into a pint while puffin' away on a "P-funk." To the contrary, though, I don't smoke as much, I don't smell like an opium den with stale beer -- and I'm hoping that the future deep cleans at work don't involve wiping tar off the fans anymore.
While anyone who wants to bitch out the ban is always doing it outside while smoking a cigarette, I believe that the ban is staring to create a different bar etiquette in Milwaukee.
I have a couple contentions. First, I am a bartender not a babysitter, so please don't leave all your belongings at the bar (especially when it is busy) and expect me to watch them. I had this dude leave an empty Pabst can atop $8, and he left the bar to light up. I knew he didn't leave that as a tip (nor do I expect that) but empty drinks on money left at the bar is the bar's money at that point. No worries, I gave the bright-eyed beer drinker his money back -- but it won't happen again.
Second, it sucks to have to leave your drink inside, but Milwaukee ordinances state that patios have to close by 11 p.m. because of the noise level in the neighborhoods. Some bars vary on their rules but if it says on the door, "Do not take your drink outside," then please respect the establishment that you are in, and leave your drink inside. No one is going to want to hang out with the guy who fights with the door guy about finishing his beer outside.
Lastly, as someone who has to sweep cigarette butts from the stairs, please use the receptacle for cigarette garbage. This trash issue can be best illustrated by a sign by my fellow coworker made for our break room (see above), which is a fortress of dumpsters, but nonetheless, the sign makes a valid point.
There are options that one can look to if the smoking ban won't get you off that bar stool. I use Altoids; I started doing that during long classes at school. It keeps breath fresh and it helps me not think about that nicotine kick as much.
For those who absolutely need that oral fix try Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Chewing Sticks. You can chew on that taste like a minty delight; it keeps your mouth occupied and doubles as a toothpick. A more expensive option is the E-Cigarette. It's an electronically-powered cigarette that releases with water vapor, so you can puff and not have to go outside.
In any case, smoking bans have been around for centuries. It can't be as bad as it was in 1643, when Czar Michael banned smoking in Russia, and anyone caught smoking had his or her lips split. That would suck.
Yeah, you can get fined and you have follow new rules, but smokers are capable of this change. I believe in you, smokers of Milwaukee.