A token of respect (or admission of guilt?) at the downside of the smoking ban

Do not worry, I am not against the ban of smoking in restaurants and banquet halls. On the contrary, I never smoked, and I do not like the smell of cigarettes and cigars ruining the taste of my food. I wouldn’t mind in a pub or a club though, but that’s a different story. I am really happy that eating and smoking got separated all over Europe. And I am old enough to tell you stories of airplanes in which the first half of the plane contained smoker chairs, and the other half non-smoker chairs – as if that made any difference for the non-smokers. I also remember smokey star-rated restaurants.  It’s good all that went for good.

Yet, there is also a negative side effect of the smoking ban. A lot of people still do like to smoke a cigarette after dinner. Who am I to tell them they should not. That’s why most restaurants, reception rooms, and banquet halls have a separate room for smokers to enjoy their little drug. And yes, even in the banquet hall last night, there was a specific smoker’s room somewhere in the back of the main hall. Nicely separated from the dining part with a firm door to keep the smoke inside. The problem was that almost none of the smokers liked that backyard room – I wouldn’t either. It’s the kind of place, normally, they would put their spare stock of banquet material. So most smokers went outside the banquet hall to light a cigarette at the front door in the street, chatting with their peers – which was much more easy by the way, than inside where the music had already taken over the sound of the many voices.

Probably some neighbors had already been protesting for years about these nightly chats. I can tell you, I would be furious for that too. That’s why the owners had put a sign at the front door that reads “please respect the neighbors and limit the external noise harassment”. They ask people to limit the harassment. So they admit the harassment. That ‘helps’. Not really. It must be terrible to have a house in that street, and try to sleep on a Saturday night, knowing that most of those nights are disrupted by flocks of smokers laughing and shouting in the street. Not tonight though, since most of these people were quite OK and respectful. But I am sure there must be other nights …

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