To the Editor,

It’s refreshing to know that the Washington, D.C. city council has finally banned smoking in the District’s restaurants and bars. Nothing detracts more from the atmosphere at the Tombs and Georgetown’s other bars than the ever-present cloud of stifling smoke. In light of the overwhelming positives of such a ban, opposing arguments seem to run hollow.

Were it true, as Mayor Williams believes, that a smoking ban would “result in economic harm,” this would be a damning argument against it. A quick Google search, however, proves this argument faulty. A New York City government study undertaken in March 2004 found that business receipts and employment in restaurants and bars had both risen one year after that city’s smoking ban had taken effect.

These results are not surprising in light of the 2004 Zagat New York City Restaurant Survey, which found that 23 percent of respondents were going out more often as a result of the smoking ban, compared to 4 percent who said they ate out less frequently and 73 percent who said their dining habits were unaffected by the smoking ban. It is clear from the New York experience that there is no economic reason for Mayor Williams to veto the 11-1 city council majority supporting the ban.

With no evidence supporting an adverse economic effect, the pro-smoking argument has no leg to stand on. Your article on the smoking ban (“D.C. Council Bans Public Smoking,” THE HOYA, Jan. 13, 2006, A5) quotes a Georgetown sophomore who fears that smokers will be greatly inconvenienced by frequent trips outside to smoke.

The validity of advice on bar-going habits from students not yet of drinking age notwithstanding, it seems that this inconvenience is more than offset by the convenience gained by the majority of customers who neither smoke cigarettes nor enjoy breathing their acrid byproduct. Without second-hand smoke, establishments such as the Tombs will become more enjoyable for both drinking and eating. As an added benefit, patrons’ clothes won’t smell like smoke at the end of the night. Tack onto these the obvious health benefits of having clean air in bars, and the arguments against a smoking ban are overwhelmed.

Georgetown University students and citizens of the District are better off without smoking in bars and restaurants. Instead of mulling a veto, Mayor Williams should look after the wellbeing of his constituents and immediately approve the smoking ban.

Berry Kurland (SFS ’06)

Nick Deane (COL ’06)

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