Monday, April 10, 2006

Smoking Bullshit

When it comes to the law banning smoking in DC restaurants, bars and nightclubs, I was somewhat in agreement with anti-ban advocate Mark Lee. Lee is the former promoter of the gay-themed Lizard Lounge party that took place every Sunday. While I do not believe that the ban will hurt businesses (as Lee does), I do believe that people should be given the personal choice to patronize and work in commercial spaces that allow smoking. As someone who hates smoking and being around smokers, I have found that the market does force smoke-free spaces even without laws mandating them.

However, Lee has hurt his case by closing Lizard and publicly claiming that the ban that has not taken effect for nightclubs has or will hurt his business. Lee's rationale for closing Lizard is so stupid that even I do not understand it. It is also misleading.

Anyone who has been to Lizard recently knows that in the past few months it was no longer the place to be on Sunday. The old folks on Sunday's 60 Minutes appeared to be in a more hip place every week than the people who attended Lizard. When I took my friends from out-of-town to Lizard a few months ago, I was embarrassed by the impression of DC nightlife that they got from it. The real reason Lizard closed is because nobody really cared that it was open.

Oddly enough, Lee will keep his actually popular (and probably profitable) holiday-weekend party going. Apparently the smoking ban takes the holiday off from wreaking havoc on nightclub profits.

Lee is clearly blowing smoke up people's asses. The public tantrum he is throwing over the smoking ban and the closing of Lizard is causing himself a loss of credibility. As one of the loudest voices against the ban, he is also losing credibility for those who believe in his philosophical views on the matter.

While it is not clear whether than ban will hurt business in DC, it is clear what it will and has done to personal choice. Unfortunately, Lee has made a bad choice and he needs to leave the scene just as quickly as Lizard did.

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