Waiting to Inhale

To ban or not to ban, that could be the question on a ballot near you.

Even nonindustry insiders recognize the hangnail on the governmental thumb. David Keith Figueredo, a business consultant, points out that "if the restaurant has too many discourteous patrons, then the restaurant will lose business since the majority [of patrons] don't smoke. However, a ban on smoking may have an opposite result for a bar and could possibly put them out of business. These decisions should ultimately be left to the individual restaurant and the market [it] serve[s]."

In short proprietors need to prepare for any and all patrons and not be forced to exclude someone based on an admittedly bad habit. Then again, if we could only require all customers to have showered in the recent past, perhaps such regulation might not be a bad idea after all.

What it comes down to is tolerance. Yes, smoking can kill you. But so can the loss of your livelihood. Ban the ban and put the emphasis on compromise. And until then, do as Suzy Buckley, people editor for Ocean Drive suggests: "There's nothing nastier than when a beautiful Miami breeze carries those small, light, delicate flakes of ash from your dining partner's ashtray right onto your $29 plate of risotto -- you just have to make yourself believe it's pepper."

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