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Your cigarettes. They'll have to wait outside. We don't want them here

A matter of moments ago, Western Australia’s new anti-smoking laws kicked in. Like similar laws in New York and elsewhere, they prohibit smoking in licensed venues with fines of up to A$2000.

As an ex-bartender (I believe the term is reformed bartender) I warmed to the idea years ago, back when the boss would paint wild visions of a renovated sports bar “just as soon as the smoking ban comes in and the riff-raff move elsewhere”. The riff-raff were our regulars, smokers all, who would presumably evacuate the moment our bar became unsuitable for their activities. They’d relocate somewhere with an open-air beer garden, perhaps. This thought made my boss very happy.

Needless to say, a man with such distaste for his best customers is no longer in charge of a sleepy suburban bar and brasserie, nor do I work there any longer, but that’s another story. His only role here was to plant that magic date in my head: July 31, 2006. How I looked forward to that day.

Me, I’ve never been much of a smoker. My old man smoked cigarettes for nigh on thirty years, which was enough to keep me the hell away from them. He never smoked indoors — a practice that might just be the definition of discourtesy — thanks to an awareness of the damage cigarette smoke can do to a ceiling and the foreknowledge that he’d be doing the painting. And while I do enjoy the occasional cigar (and deeply appreciate the lack of a Cuban trade embargo in Australia), I’ve never smoked indoors for the same reason. Plus it’s just mean to the non-smokers around you. Sure, it (was) legal, but who wants to be that much of an asshole?

The real question is: why in the hell did this take so long? August 2006?! I could’ve spent my work nights (and nights off) coming home from bars smelling of beer and sweat instead of other people’s cigarettes! I could’ve been sweeping peanut shells instead of ash and butts! My laundry might’ve actually smelled clean coming out of the washer!

But on reflection, there is actually a downside to all this. Now when you meet an attractive stranger a bar, you can no longer immediately discern whether they’re a smoker or not to adjust (or reconsider) your approach. There goes another litmus test. Bastards.