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News From the Front

Battling the Ban

SLFIn the course of my natural movements, I’ve managed to speak with a dozen bartenders and bar owners, and 75 percent report a marked loss of revenue since the smoking ban went into effect. Several went so far to say that if things don’t improve soon they’re likely to go bankrupt. Furthermore, it’s the dive bars, the natural milieu of the smoker, that are getting hit the hardest.

Of course, this wasn’t supposed to happen. The great minds of the Colorado Legislature and the pro-ban groups were quick to shout down anyone with the audacity to suggest it was a bad business move, swearing that, on the contrary, the bars would be overwhelmed with new riches as joyous gangs of non-smokers returned.

Anyone who spends more than three nights a week on a bar stool knew those claims were pure swill. That crowd didn’t materialize because people that uptight don’t drink, at least not like you and I do, and never will. It was akin to Wall Streeters claiming they’d personally take over all the minimum wage jobs once all the illegal immigrants were driven from the land.

I’m pleased to report a number of bars are ignoring the ban, and I salute their courage. These are the seeds of civil disobedience that will eventually unravel this goddamn, wrong-headed oppression.

Another light of hope is a spate of anti-ban posters (see right) that have appeared around town, especially on E. Colfax and Broadway. Tasteful in a retro sort of way, and put up by something called the Smokers Liberation Front, they prove that Denver isn’t the cowed and complacent town the local press tries to make it out to be.

Internet research reveals the group is based in the U.K., and while it’s perhaps a bit sad we have to rely on foreign-inspired activists to fight the Power, we’ll take what we get.

The anti-smoking crowd put the ban to popular vote twice and both times the people voted it down. It took the nanny-state legislature to ram it through, and now it’s up to the people to take it back.

Frank Kelly Rich