While I tend to be left of center on most political issues, when it comes to the smoking ban, I find myself with the strange bedfellows of small-government conservatives. I don't like the sweeping legislation of a smoke ban at the expense of more creative, less dramatic policies, and I generally don't think it's the government's job to look after my health (I am not a smoker, after all, so this is being done on my behalf). If the government is so concerned about the well-being of my lungs, I suggest the government buy me a membership to the Washington Sports Club. I might even go.
Given this curmudgeonly stance of mine, I am pleased down to my little republican toes to see that the "free market" approach to non-smoking appears to be working in DC. Several bars, hotel lounges, and blues clubs in DC and Northern VA have voluntarily banned smoking because that's what their customers wanted. If this trend continues, it may very well be that DC becomes a de facto non-smoking town. But it won't be because the government shot us all the middle finger, snatched the ciggies out of our mouths, and extinguished them on our faces. It will be because the bars responded to consumer demands, and the majority won out. The bars who have voluntarily gone non-smoking do not appear to be suffering monetarily as many in NYC are, which suggests a healthy demand for, well, healthy bar environments (as ridiculous as that seems). As it stands, it looks like there will be a lot of options in town for both the smoker and the non-smoker looking for a night of drinks or music, which is really the ideal situation.