Preserving the Smoke-Filled Room

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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.

NEXT: Edmund Opitz, R.I.P.

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  1. It would be interesting to study which neighborhoods engage in this and which don’t. Where I used to live, parking was usually not a hassle and the tree-lined streets were filled with small single homes.

    Now I live near Lakeshore, and parking is nigh impossible. Yet no one claims spots here, as they did in the more “family” oriented neighborhood. I have no explanation for this fact.

  2. I can’t believe we don’t have a Constitutional Amendment that specifies “Congress shall live by its own laws.”

  3. Wow. This is absolutely insane. Whatever happened to government workers being “servants of the public”? I think they view themselves more as royalty.

    And having to prove a “hardship” exemption for non-government establishment owners? How sad.

  4. It would be interesting to study which neighborhoods engage in this and which don’t. Where I used to live, parking was usually not a hassle and the tree-lined streets were filled with small single homes.

    Now I live near Lakeshore, and parking is nigh impossible. Yet no one claims spots here, as they did in the more “family” oriented neighborhood. I have no explanation for this fact.

    Wrong Thread??

  5. What entity will be the first where tobacco is illegal and marijuana is not? I predict British Columbia.

  6. “I can’t believe we don’t have a Constitutional Amendment that specifies “Congress shall live by its own laws.”

    I can.

    “What entity will be the first where tobacco is illegal and marijuana is not? I predict British Columbia.”

    Boulder, Colorado.

  7. I think they view themselves more as royalty.

    I think our Dear Leaders are bravely exposing themselves to the horrors of second-hand smoke …
    for edumacational purposes only, of course.

  8. Wow. This is absolutely insane. Whatever happened to government workers being “servants of the public”? I think they view themselves more as royalty.

    Haven’t they always? I suppose you could say that at least the don’t bother with the charade anymore.

  9. I suppose you could say that at least the don’t bother with the charade anymore.

    I’m not so sure about that. When they are campaigning you’ll still hear them talk about “serving the public”, like it is a hardship that they endure, because they are so altruistic.

  10. Wrong Thread??

    Uhh. Yeah. That’s what happens when your boss sneaks up on your right when you’re ready to hit “post”. 🙂

  11. The RWJ foundation doesn’t want to piss off or any congressmen. They need grant money, its that simple.

  12. The Capitol building is not under the jurisdiction of the government of the D. of C.

  13. It seems I have only two options: quit smoking or join Congress. I suppose that the stench of corruption isn’t that much worse than stale cigarettes.

  14. The Capitol building is not under the jurisdiction of the government of the D. of C.

    That would have been my first guess. Is this a fact?

  15. Didn’t Congress ban smoking in the Capitol, and in its office buildings, over a decade ago?

  16. Actually maybe we should ENCOURAGE smoking in the capitol. What w/ the incumbency protections, how else are we gonna get rid of those congressmen?

  17. joe:

    From a USA Today article on the subject:

    The Senate restricts smoking to senators’ private hideaway offices in the Capitol and one glassed-in lounge. Smoking in the Senate chamber has been forbidden since 1914, according to the historian’s office.
    The House ? where Republicans last week elected chain-smoking Rep. John Boehner of Ohio as their new leader ? allows smoking in the rear of the chamber and in the Speaker’s Lobby off the House floor, where a painting of former speaker (and later vice president) John Nance Garner holding a stogie hangs.

    I guess they left themselves a few spots.

  18. How nice for them. They realized how god damn annoying it is to have to hunt for a place to smoke and they have the power to do something about it. It’s not they are in control of the many state legislatures and individual cities across the country that are making their own bans.

  19. Some animals are more equal than others.

  20. I can’t believe we don’t have a Constitutional Amendment that specifies “Congress shall live by its own laws.”

    Congress didn’t pass the tobacco ban… the D.C. Communist Council did… And, no the federal part of Washington is not under the jurisdiction of the City Council.

  21. Smoking is a perk allowed only to the rich and famous, or only rich. The peasents caught smoking will be punished for a while, then hanged, for the good of the country. You get what you vote for hehehe

  22. “Mind if I smoke?”

    “Mind if I fart in your face?”

  23. I would hate to see Congress not have smoke filled rooms for engaging in their time honored traditions of corruption.

    Yes, this is an example of the class based nature of Prohibition. There’s nothing new about this. Alcohol Prohibition worked the same way, with the poor being the primary victims of the policy, while the rich could drink up free from legal harrassment.

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