As some of you may know, Italy introduced a new law which effectively bans people from smoking in bars and restaurants. I say effectively because it is possible to circumvent the effects of the ban by equipping bars and restaurants with well ventilated smokers zones, but this is just not practicable for the vast majority of bars and restaurants here in the living museum. Why? Simple, because most of these places have only one main room which means that an outright ban is the only real solution. Even for those establishments which can boast more than one room, the cost of installing all the ventilation gear necessary would be prohibitive and not really a justifiable expense seeing as the number of smokers is beginning to dwindle.
So, what of these ‘after effects’ which I mention in the title of this entry? Well, I am aware of at least one place which is on the brink of failure, due to the change in the law. This place, which is a smallish ‘trattoria’ – that is a cheap to medium quality restaurant, thrived on a very particular type of clientele. This group of people were invariably retired, ex-tradesmen types who enjoyed nothing more than wiling away the afternoon eating, downing large amounts of read wine, playing cards and smoking innumerable cigarettes. With the ban, these people disappeared overnight and the profits of this place fell so low that now they are considering calling it a day and moving on to do something more lucrative instead. One does wonder where all these particular smokers have gone. I sort of have visions of a ‘smoke easy’ which would be located down some quiet and anonymous alleyway and would only open its steel covered door to those who knew the password or the owner.
Other effects of the ban are that you know see small gaggles of people hovering around the entrances to most bars, pubs and restaurants smoking their little hearts out, come rain or shine. Now, even though I am a smoker, I do welcome this ban. It does make spending an evening out with small children much more likely for one thing. I believe that in general most places should see an increase in income, because all those non-smokers who wanted to check out that nice little eatery just down the road will do so, now that they don’t have to fear tucking in to their meals while sitting next to mister chain smoker. Plus, it is possible that those eating out will be tempted to spend longer in their chosen spot, maybe ordering a pudding and one or two other bits and pieces, because they do not have to worry about an ever thickening blue haze.
It is also possible that many smokers will give up their damaging habit just because of the hassle of having to abandon your friends for a quick ciggie. That’s not to mention the fact that the government here are increasing the price of ‘cancer sticks’ on what seems to be an almost monthly basis. I, alas, am one of those terrible smokers who is always thinking about giving up, but never quite gets round to doing it. I don’t even get that much real pleasure from smoking, it’s just that I quite like the mini-break the act creates and it also enables me to sit back for a minute or two and collect my thoughts. If somebody gets round to producing completely innocuous cigarettes, then I don’t think I would even be thinking about giving up.
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