The smoking ban in Victorian pubs, clubs, bars and gaming houses (except for Crown’s high-roller rooms) came into place last night. An on-the-spot fine of $110 is levied on both smoker and bar-owner for an offense – it increases to $550 if the offender takes the matter to court and loses.
I don’t often go to these types of ‘entertainment venues’. I generally get more pleasure out of watching paint dry or ‘Karate Kid’ movies than going to a smelly bar that serves poor quality wines. If I do go to a bar I always do notice the offensive stale tobacco odours. Of course great wine bars, like Walters on Southbank, are notable exceptions - no smoke and fine wines.
I went to a Flinders Lane bar last Wednesday and I’ll try the same place again this week to see the short-term customer response. My guess is that bar patronage will improve. Smokers will step outside for a fag and non-smokers (now 83% of the adult population and only 10% of youth now take up the habit) will feel free to breathe again. As most smokers would prefer to quit this policy helps them in that regard. Indeed today's Age confirms that 60% of smokers favour the ban.
Bar staff who have no longer to inhale filthy fumes will clearly be better-off provided jobs are not lost. To the extent that smoking and cigarette consumption are complement goods, bar sales from smoking customers might drop off a bit but this will be offset by new customers.
The casinos and poker machine venues will lose – players will have to leave the machines to have a fag and might then regain their sanity - but as I would prefer to see these anti-social institutions bankrupted that won’t cause me grief.
And, yes, to those young homeless lovebirds - yes I wish I was one - seeking a smooch in a dark alley after imbibing a belly full of grog in a bar. It must be pleasant, for a change, to taste some real human saliva rather than to suck on an orifice that tastes like a chook's bum. Put down any increased osculatory pleasure to the smoking ban.