Dave Reid

An Urban Benefit to the Smoking Ban

By - Jun 1st, 2010 08:04 am
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Wicked Hop Sidewalk Seating

Wicked Hop Sidewalk Seating

The indoor smoking ban goes in to effect in Wisconsin on July 5th, 2010, and certainly there are strong arguments on both sides of this issue.  Some claim “it’s to protect the workers,” or quite simply “don’t like smelling like smoke,” whereas on the other end of the spectrum the argument against the ban starts with “the government is taking my freedom,” and ends with “leave private business alone.”  Regardless of what side of this issue you’re on, lets be honest there are certain establishments that will be hurt financially by the ban.  For example, Casablanca on Brady stands out as a possible tavern that could be impacted, because of the establishments significant hookah business, but there are other establishments that might actually see an increase to their business, likely ones with existing beer gardens.  Leaving aside the fact that there will be winners and losers from this legislation there is a touch of risk to our neighborhoods, but more importantly there is also a potential benefit to Milwaukee’s built environment and public life.

Unfortunately conflicts between neighborhood residents and taverns will arise.  Taverns will need to be aware of the potential of more litter on our streets, and the likely increase of noise outside of taverns.  Clearly a balance will need to be found to manage the desires of the taverns and the needs of the neighborhood, but hopefully we’ll see our city leaders be open to more extension of premises requests, and tavern owners that properly manage the noise and litter around their facility.

If this balance can be found, a likely side effect of smoking ban will be more patios and additional sidewalk seating in Milwaukee.  In other cities, such as Portland, where similar legislation has been passed bars have addressed the ban by adding outdoor patios or seating, and here in Wisconsin some establishments have already responded to the upcoming ban by adding new patios.  Another example of this ban’s impact on street life is seen in a neighbor to our south, as Cudahy just moved forward with allowing sidewalk seating.  Outdoor dining, and drinking will add some noise to the city, especially during the summer, but that shouldn’t automatically be viewed as a negative as cities are lively places, and Milwaukee should strive to add more activity to our city, while balancing the concerns of neighbors.

Overall, this should be a positive to Milwaukee, as it will add more “eyes on the street,” enhance the built environment with new cafe seating, encourage the creative development of small urban spaces for active uses, and in the end bring more vitality to our streets.


18 thoughts on “An Urban Benefit to the Smoking Ban”

  1. Good point, I would just add that heating lamps can also extend the use of these outdoor patios by several months a year resulting in more pedestrian activity.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Matt Yup, I had a bit on how in Copenhagen not only do they use heating lamps, and fire pits but often have blankets at the tables so people sit out through a much longer period of the year, but it got left on the cutting room floor.

  3. colucci says:

    While I absolutely oppose the ban (and don’t smoke), I have to say that more outdoor seating is exactly what happened in the Twin Cities when they went “freedom free”. It totally improved their anemic street life! How can you not love more outdoor seating?

    I feel so torn…

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @colucci Yup I was trying not to pass judgment on the law itself. My hope is the city recognizes this and allows more places to open patios and such, which could help Milwaukee have a better street life.

  5. Patty says:

    I am very excited about the smoking ban. I will now get a chance to spend my money in many places vs. the 4 nonsmoking places I frequent currently. However, I am a little bummed that these lovely patios and outdoor dining spaces will no turn into smokers lounges. Indoors or outdoors, I really hate smoking.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @Patty Personally, I can hear the argument for an indoor ban, but outside that’s going a step to far. Further, if a push continues too ban it on patios and sidewalk seating then the taverns won’t spend any additional funds to build these facilities.

  7. Patty says:

    I am not advocating an outdoor ban. I am just saying that I really hate smoking. What I would love is for people to take a look around them, and if someone right next to them is in the middle of their meal, wait for just a few more minutes to light up. Nothing is worse than having a bite of food with a gulp of someone’s smoke. That applies indoors and out, and now with the ban, I don’t have to be concerned about that happening indoors anymore.

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @Patty I’d say I think most smokers do recognize this issue, though in particular indoors. And remember now outdoors is where they are being asked to go so maybe some understanding on the other side would be good as well.

  9. Patty says:

    Oh Dave, I completely disagree. I was just at Elsa’s last week for lunch, and I watched as woman lit up a cigarette before her companions were done eating , and they asked her to not smoke until they were finished. She didn’t even consider that she was being rude to her own friends.

    Did I mention that I hate smoking?

  10. colucci says:

    Hey Patty I’m not sure, but it seems like you don’t like smoking! 😉

    You know what I hate more than smoking? Perfume. It makes me physically gag in an elevator and I lose my appetite when at a restaurant someone walks past me wreaking of some chemical concoction they either think is sexy or hides the fact they haven’t showered. I can’t believe that I can smell some of these stinking people from 6 feet away!

    Back to the smoking ban. As is typical with these kinds of regulations I think they miss the point. The point is fresh air. Why not set air quality standards for restaurant employees? (aren’t they the reason for the complete ban?) Then establishments would be required to provide fresh air whether people were smoking or not.

    The same goes with banning 2-stroke boat motors. Just because 1960’s 2-stroke motors pollute doesn’t mean all future 2-strokes will. You ban the pollution not the technology. Doesn’t that make more sense?


  11. Dave Reid says:

    @colucci I think the air quality standard would of made sense as well.

  12. Scott Matula says:

    I have been working with bar owners in locations close to residential neighborhoods and are trying to create “enclosed outdoor courtyards” to help control noise. We will see how that works.

    Added outdoor seating and creating a more vibrant outdoor space is a nice added benefit from this ban.

  13. Dave Reid says:

    @Scott Hey thanks for posting. I ran across your blog post on the topic as I was writing this article. It’s good to know you’re considering the noise issue as I know that will come up as a compliant for bars close to neighborhoods.. Do you have any designs or such out in the public yet? Or an bar that’s built a design? I’d be curious to see them. Thanks!

  14. Patty says:

    You know what else I hate? People who spray themselves with perfume to cover up their smell after smoking.

  15. Dave Reid says:

    @Patty What’s with all this hate? 🙂

  16. Chris says:

    Yes, there WILL be more outdoor seating and yes that is an awesome thing.

    I can also say that there eventually WILL be a push to ban smoking from those places as well. It’s sad because so many smoking ban advocates said “Don’t worry, smokers. You can always take it outside!” Well, now when they see that some of the best seating will be outside, they will want to eliminate smoking in those places, too. It’s usually the next step in the smoking ban trajectory.

  17. Dave Reid says:

    @Chris This is true, I have seen that happen, though right at the ban bars still attempt to build patios. I hope we don’t go down that road, but yes it has happened in other places.

  18. radon bergen says:

    For me, if people will not smoke it can benefit the whole community. But also to the person who did not smoke. Thank you for posting.

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