Tallinn Asks Smokers to Butt Out
Today Estonia joined Lithuania and Latvia by imposing an official smoking ban in restaurants and bars, clubs and casinos. Under the new law, smoking will be allowed only on outdoor terraces and designated smoking rooms without service. Is this way, smokers will have to get up and leave their table, step into another room or outside to get their nicotine fix. While this may not seem like such a big deal, particularly given the success of anti-smoking laws in the other Baltic countries and many American cities like New York, there are certain businesses that will be especially impacted - namely cigar lounges and hookah cafes.
The manager of one such establishment - stylish Indian eatery and hookah parlor, Hookah House - is convinced they'll see a decline in sales as a result of the ban. People dont want to move from one table to another table. Theyre going to either eat and not smoke, or they wont eat and they will go to the smoking area. Either way were going to lose the smoke turnover or the food turnover.
While certain bars don't have a portion of their business staked on tobacco sales, it's still difficult to imagine them smoke-free. Take Levist Valjas, for instance. Half the appeal of this dive-bar is its smoked out, dressed down, counter-culture dinginess. Certainly some of the 'atmosphere' will be lost without the clouds of cigarette smoke...
While many people are looking forward to the smoking ban, others are disappointed it doesn't go further, imposing a blanket ban on smoking rather than quarantining it certain areas. The most likely reason is that Tallinn gets damn cold in the winter - hence the indoor havens. Overall, however, Tallinners are optimistic about the ban hoping it will lead to healthier citizens, a cleaner city, and fewer weekly loads of laundry. Many establishments are banking on an increase in business, particularly after a Lithuanian poll revealed that more people were going out to bars since the anti-smoking legislation was imposed January 1st (but we already know how much most Lithuanians don't like 'fags'). How well Tallinn's new smoking ban plays out with its own residents, or its drinking and eating establishments, remains to be seen.