Sunday, February 06, 2005

The New York Times: In Barrooms, Smoking Ban Is Less Reviled 

Back in 2002, when the City Council was weighing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's proposal to eliminate smoking from all indoor public places, few opponents were more fiercely outspoken than James McBratney, president of the Staten Island Restaurant and Tavern Association.

He frequently ripped Mr. Bloomberg as a billionaire dictator with a prohibitionist streak that would undo small businesses like his bar and his restaurant. Visions of customers streaming to the legally smoke-filled pubs of New Jersey kept him awake at night.

Asked last week what he thought of the now two-year-old ban, Mr. McBratney sounded changed. "I have to admit," he said sheepishly, "I've seen no falloff in business in either establishment." He went on to describe what he once considered unimaginable: Customers actually seem to like it, and so does he.

By many predictions, the smoking ban, which went into effect on March 30, 2003, was to be the beginning of the end of the city's reputation as the capital of grit. Its famed nightlife would wither, critics warned, bar and restaurant businesses would sink, tourists would go elsewhere, and the mayor who wrought it all would pay a hefty price in the polls. And then there were those who said that city smokers, a rebellious class if ever there was one, simply would not abide.

But a review of city statistics, as well as interviews last week with dozens of bar patrons, workers and owners, found that the ban has not had the crushing effect on New York's economic, cultural and political landscapes predicted by many of its opponents.
Dr. Frieden credits the apparent success of the new smoking rules here with encouraging other seemingly unlikely places to follow suit, or at least to consider doing so. Among them are Boston, Virginia, Australia, Ireland and Italy. Last week, the City Council in Philadelphia began reviewing a newly proposed bill to make bars and restaurants smoke-free.

The councilman who introduced the bill in Philadelphia, Michael A. Nutter, cited New York as an inspiration. "This is kind of the epitome of the song: 'If you can make it there,' " he said in an interview. "What people are saying is, 'If New York can deal with clean-air legislation, why can't we?' "
Jason Sitek, 31, said he had similarly begun to enjoy the ban, even if smoke-free bars subtract from what he used to think a New York City bar should be. "The whole nature of New York City and the bar is you can go into a smoky atmosphere," he said. "It's like Disney World now."

Still, he said, smoke-free bars have their advantages. "You realize you stop stinking, you don't smell like an ashtray," he said on Tuesday night as he smoked outside Spike Hill, a bar in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

"I'm all for it. My dry-cleaning bill's gone way down," said John Payne, 36, who was smoking on Tuesday night outside Toad Hall, in SoHo. "And I'm smoking less."

A friend, Bill Cauclanis, 29, said, "There's a secondary scene now outside of bars - a smoker's scene."

He added: "You can meet a girl out here. Strike up a conversation."

The New York Times > New York Region > In Barrooms, Smoking Ban Is Less Reviled



Baseball doesn't know what to do with the cloud of steroids hanging over the game

Canseco confessions
Tell-all outs steroid users
New York Daily News

Swollen ex-slugger Jose Canseco lays waste to the game that made him famous in a shocking new book, outing several stars as steroid abusers, the Daily News has learned.

The book, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big," published by Regan Books and scheduled to hit bookstores Feb. 21, already is causing a firestorm in baseball circles. Players, agents, union officials and Major League Baseball executives have been burning up the phone lines over the past several days trying to find information about the book's contents.

"Hoo boy," one top major league executive said. "This is going to be bad."

Canseco apparently dropped the title he told reporters a year ago he would use, "Dare to Truth."

The longtime Oakland star, who made a brief appearance with the Yankees in 2000, claims he introduced steroids to the game and injected fellow Bash Brother Mark McGwire in the rear end numerous times in clubhouse bathroom stalls.

He also describes watching disgraced Yankee slugger Jason Giambi and McGwire injecting each other when they both played with the Oakland A's, and says he personally taught All-Star and potential Hall of Famers Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez to use 'roids after he was traded to the Texas Rangers in 1992.
The book, which is still being edited, dishes plenty of dirt about the wild life of a young, rich ballplayer with a healthy sexual appetite, among other shocking revelations, but also talks about the harsh treatment he and his brother received from their father, and the painful death of their mother.

Perhaps the biggest shock in the book? Canseco says he never slept with Madonna. They made out in her Manhattan apartment one night, he claims, but that's as far as it went.

New York Daily News - Home - Daily News Exclusive: Canseco confessions

Jose: You're out!
In explosive tell-all, Canseco dishes on steroid users
New York Daily News

Among his many bombshells, Canseco claims:

---McGwire introduced Giambi to performance-enhancing drugs and the three of them used to shoot steroids together. Canseco says players on the A's talked openly about injecting in the bathroom stalls, and the clubhouse was an abuser's paradise.

---During the great home run race of 1998, a reporter's accidental discovery of androstenedione in McGwire's locker, may not have been an accident. Canseco says he believes McGwire put the bottle of the steroid "pre-cursor" in his locker so it would be found, thus creating a smokescreen for his extensive use of illegal steroids. Andro, recently criminalized, was legal at the time.

---Canseco had sex with hundreds of women - most players, he says, cheat on their wives - but clears the air about his most famous relationship: Canseco says he never had sex with Madonna, although he did spend a night making out with the Material Girl in her Manhattan apartment.

Jose: You're out!


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