FUMING

02.21.13

Smoking Ban? Here's Where Cigarettes Are Still Allowed

As Connecticut threatens to ban in-vehicle smoking, the already small pool of places where cigarettes are allowed is shrinking fast. From a rebellious Washington sports bar to a sophisticated Paris hotel, here is a guide to smoking freedom

Connecticut’s smoking something. Well, not really. But with a new proposal to ban smoking inside your own car, it certainly looks that way.

To be fair, the law would apply only to those cars carrying children under age seven. In many ways, that makes sense. Smoking is harmful to your health—and kids can't stand up for themselves. Still, as Americans, don't we have the right to choose? A vehement defense of liberty includes the right to smoke. If you want to jiggy with a ciggy, who’s Uncle Sam to stop you?

Yet, stop you he does. For those still smoking, the pool of places to light up legally is shrinking by the day. As America’s smoking ban burns through the nation, here’s a roundup of places that will keep you living in a smoker's paradise.

(Not to worry, they’ll have a light).

1. For the urban book-loving twerd (trendy nerd)
Hudson Bar & Books: 636 Hudson Street, New York, N.Y.

Started in 1990, Bar & Books looks more like a scene out of Mad Men then a mahogany-clad West Village bar. New York City’s first cigar bar, its customers come from around the neighborhood and across the world to sip on scotch and puff their way through conversation. With a library full of books lining the space, you can even catch up on that classic you’ve been dying to read. One caveat: cigars not included.

2. For the taco-loving-tobacco fan who (sort of) hables Español
Cagachos: 2413 W. North Avenue, Chicago

Tacos meet smoking, minus the tacos. Once a popular taqueria in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park, Cagachos is now a secret gem of a cigar shop, complete with smoking rooms on the upstairs floor that allow. Taxidermy line the walls and Latino employees keep the atmosphere fun and light. Be careful not to make the animals jealous.

3. For the art-lover with a Paris bug.
Hotel Louvre Sainte Anne: 32, rue Sainte Anne, 1st Arr., 75001 Paris, France

Paris is still fuming over the smoking ban the government passed in 2008, which prohibited smoking in nearly all public places. Luckily, the French are artful dodgers and have found ways around the tough legislation. This beautiful Paris hotel provides a quiet outdoor escape for smoke lovers to relax. “Fantastique!” reads one review on Yelp.com. “Very smoker-friendly.” Not to be confused with the Louvre hotel, this small spot is located on a side-street with many Japanese restaurants. You can take the cigarettes out of the French, but you can’t take the smoker out of Paris.

4. For the All-American sports junkie
Frankie’s Sports Pub: 3663 Pacific Avenue, SE, Olympia, Wash.

This modest dive bar in Olympia, Washington, is more than meets the eye. Not only can customers enjoy a drag or two when they please, they can puff the magic dragon as well! Frank Scharr, the owner of the bar, says he makes smoking legal not out of his own desire to light up—but to keep his business running. The smoke-friendly section of Scharr’s bar is located on the second floor and nicknamed “Friends of Frankies.” A $10 annual membership fee is required.

If you want to jiggy with a ciggy, who’s Uncle Sam to stop you?

5. For the pack-an-hour smoking zealot
All of Russia

As the world’s second-largest tobacco market—after China—Russia is often considered a “smoker’s paradise.” Although Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attempted to crack down on the smoking epidemic, passing significant legislation in 2012, the Russians continue to light up—virtually, wherever they please. Added bonus: Moscow boasts some of the least expensive cigarettes in the world.

6. For the anxious airport lounger
Denver International Airport: 8500 Peña Boulevard, Denver

While the majority of U.S. Airports, including major ones like Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy, ban smoking everywhere, Denver International Airport is holding firm with one remaining smoking lounge on its premises. The ‘Smokin Bear Lounge,’ as it's aptly named, is the only public building in Colorado where indoor smoking lounges are legal. So much for a pre-board glass of wine, here you can calm your jitters with a pre-flight drag.

7. For the morning commuter with a craving
Passenger Rail Transport, China

Wish you could have a cigarette on your morning commute? Move to China! Although a new national smoking ban came into effect in May 2011, weak enforcement of the law makes it one of the easiest places to light up in the world. On China’s passenger rail-transport system, one of the busiest and biggest in the world, smoking is permitted in certain cars—many of which are cafes. Newer, more modern trains like have banned smoking completely, but the laws are rumored to be heavily ignored in some areas.

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If these places aren’t enough to wet your whistle, the activists at C.L.A.S.H. (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment) will likely be more than happy to lend a hand. A spokesperson for the New York Branch, Audrey Silk, is passionate about the cause, calling the anti-smoking crusade one of "incrementalism."

“The anti-smokers intentionally went from banning smoking first on planes, then in half restaurants, then full restaurants, then all indoor workplaces, then bars and clubs, then doorways, then hospitals, then parks and beaches. It's the frog in the pot. So what's next—and would have been most objectional if they'd started there—but our private cars? After that, our private homes.”

Silk makes a convincing argument. The ban on smoking is already rigid, but it’s only going to get worse. So get out there, smoke lovers. Before you know it, you'll be in Non-Smoking City: population, everyone.