Preserving the Smoke-Filled Room


The New York Times reported this week that Congress has exempted itself from the D.C. smoking ban, which takes effect next month. Although smoking will be prohibited in bars, restaurants, and other indoor workplaces, members of Congress will continue to light up in the Capitol. This special treatment is of a piece with the exemption for cigar bars, the sort of upscale joints that legislators, lobbyists, and other insiders tend to patronize. Owners of ordinary drinking establishments, meanwhile, have to angle for a "hardship" exemption or try to get their tobacco sales above the magical 10 percent threshold decreed by the D.C. Council if they want to let their customers smoke. The ban also exempts tobacconists, hookah bars, and outdoor seating, making it remarkably tolerant by Calabasas standards.