Up in smoke...

With news that the gov­ern­ment are set to clamp down on smok­ing on public places, Andy Buchan ar­gues that bars and clubs should be in­cluded in the re­mit…

Infusion Magazine - - LOOKING FORWARD -

Imag­ine for a sec­ond I'm at your work, I'm sit­ting next to you at your desk.

I spill a drink down your top, and as I apol­o­gise, a lit­tle bit of spickle lands on your cheek as I pro­pel my words out, bat­tling with the back­ground noise. I stum­ble around the of­fice do­ing a dis­com­bob­u­lated dance look­ing for the toi­lets be­fore for­get­ting what I was do­ing and start hit­ting on your fe­male boss. And fi­nally, I light up a fag and start breath­ing nox­ious fumes all over you, fumes so claggy, so hard-to-shift that your pens, your sta­pler, your hair, your shirt, your XL doc­u­ments reek of smoke. And then I stub said fag out against your jumper mid dance move, burning a hole through to your scarred arm, and wan­der off to­wards the dance­floor.

Well, that's a pretty or­di­nary day at the of­fice for a DJ (al­beit one in a club and not at your of­fice). And largely, it's fine - you head into a club to have a drink, to have a chat, to have a dance, to for­get about your day in the of­fice. They're all choices, and most don't have a def­i­nite or last­ing im­pact.

But smok­ing does, and in­creas­ingly it is be­com­ing a choice around the world.

The UK brought in non­smok­ing in bars and clubs 6 years ago, New York and Toronto long ago opted out, and while smok­ing has been outlawed in var­i­ous ar­eas of Dubai (public and mu­nic­i­pal­ity build­ings), it's still to find its way into club land. And I for one can't wait for it to come.

Through var­i­ous de­ci­sions, a lot of my life re­volves around bars and clubs: from writ­ing about them for DJ Mag­a­zine, Time Out and now In­fu­sion, to DJing in clubs

a cou­ple of times a month, I spend a lot of time in smoke­filled, poorly ven­ti­lated clubs. And my lap­top, head­phones, CDs, hair and clothes reek of smoke, which means my lungs can only be gasp­ing for fresh air.

His­tor­i­cally, shisha is a big part of the Mid­dle East cul­ture, and cig­a­rettes are cheap, Dhs10 for a pack of 20. Plus, there’s no pesky state-wide health ser­vice like the NHS to poke its nose into your health or ad­ver­tis­ing re­stric­tions: as long as you’re old enough, light ‘em up.

But as Dubai is blessed with beau­ti­ful weather for 8 months of the year, it makes sense to make the most of the great out­doors and move the smok­ers out­side. Or clubs could ac­tu­ally spend some of their hard-earned dirhams on prop­erly ven­ti­lat­ing their in­door rooms - it wouldn't al­le­vi­ate the prob­lem en­tirely, but it would go a long way to help­ing beat sec­ond hand smoke. But we're talk­ing industrial sized units, rather than a makeshift fan which has less huff than an asth­matic fish.

Clubs would then be smoke free, and the DTCM would have an­other rev­enue stream by hand­ing out big fines to venues that con­tra­vene the rules (and maybe the pro­ceeds could be put to­wards lung can­cer char­i­ties?). And smok­ers would still be able to puff away, and even get a sun­tan/sauna in the process. Win win, right?

Hav­ing grown up in smokey pubs and clubs (not lit­er­ally - my folks aren't bad peo­ple), I can see the ad­van­tages smok­ing brings. It lends at­mos­phere, it blurs the edges and adds depth to a room which oth­er­wise might be too clean cut or stark. The smell also cov­ers a mul­ti­tude of stinks: hav­ing been back to the UK post-ban, I can con­firm that venues now have an air of BO and farts, a truly devil­ish con­coc­tion. Some clubs have even had to pump in syn­thetic smells to cover up the stink. On top of that, some dance­floors have suf­fered as club­bers rush for a cig­a­rette hit and desert the floor. And of course, let's not for­get the decades of ad­ver­tis­ing: smok­ing is cool.

But fun­da­men­tally, club­bing is about choice - the right to choose your mu­sic, what you wear, who you go with, what you drink, when to stum­ble home. But you haven't cho­sen the right to breathe in some­one else's sec­ond hand smoke, and be ex­posed to any num­ber of far-reach­ing, life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses. And that's a choice we all should be able to make our­selves.

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