tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves

Dallas smoking ban will drag away era of smoky pool halls, bars

Ship’s Lounge is the kind of old-fashioned tavern where, in a topsy-turvy world, a person can book passage back to simpler times. Walking into Ship’s is like stepping on to the set of an old black-and-white movie: muted conversations among old friends enveloped by drifting curls of cigarette smoke. Not much has changed here since Ship’s dropped anchor on Lower Greenville nearly 50 years ago. You can still get a $2 bottle of Bud at happy hour, and the jukebox plays timeless classics like Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.”

But change is coming: Beginning Friday, smoking will be illegal in Dallas bars and pool halls – expanding the city’s current ban on smoking in restaurants and the workplace.

Few would argue against the health benefits of Dallas’ move to make its public and social spaces smoke-free. But at Ship’s and similar local haunts, regulars wonder whether, as the smoke clears, a classic part of Americana will disappear.

Veteran Dallas sportswriter and author Mike “Shrop” Shropshire can’t get his mind around the idea of outlawing smoking in a pool hall, where a lit cigarette seems as indispensable a prop as the cue stick: “It’s like taking opium out of the opium den,” he says.

“There are certain places like pawnshops and pool halls that are part of the American landscape,” says Shropshire, a nonsmoker. “Making them nonsmoking shrinks the fabric of the American culture that I grew up in.”

‘What’s next?’

Sharky’s, a longtime upper Greenville Avenue pool hall and game room, is counting on customer loyalty.

“We’ve been here 29 years. We have an established clientele,” says George Rolfes, a daytime bartender. There will be an adjustment period, he adds. “Initially, it might affect sales.”

At Ship’s, those who enjoy a cigarette with their beer say they’ll probably stick around. But they resent the city butting in and telling them what to do.

“I’ve got to quit smoking myself,” says Rich Rainey, a retired convenience store manager late one afternoon. He’s hunched over a half-pack of Pall Malls and a sweating bottle of Bud. “But I think we’ve gone too far.”

“What’s next?” asks Jerry Phillips, leaning in from two barstools down.

Phillips owns a moving business a few blocks south on Ross Avenue and likes to stop in after work. He glances toward the door with a worried expression, as if he’s expecting it to fly open and reveal fitness guru Richard Simmons bouncing in and urging everybody to get off their barstools and start pumping their arms and legs.

“I mean, where does it stop?” Phillips asks, turning back to his can of Coors Lite.

Tom Forkitt, a bartender at Ship’s for a dozen years, follows the conversation from his customary perch at one end of the L-shaped bar. Forkitt expects to lose some business over the ban. “It’s going to hurt a bit,” he says.

Some regulars have told him they’re angry enough to stay home or take their business to the suburbs, where the laws are friendlier to smokers.

But Forkitt thinks Ship’s will survive. “A lot of our customers don’t smoke or they quit,” says Forkitt, who quit cigarettes two years ago. As for the smokers? “They’ll gripe,” he says, but he expects most will keep coming.

Fellow bartender Lisa McKey, who does smoke, says she’s not griping. After the ban takes effect, she won’t have to wipe cigarette ash off the bar all the time. “It’s a great incentive to quit,” she says.

No stranger to change

Ship’s has weathered a few storms over the years. Its current location dates back to the early 1960s, when it shared the small plaza just south of Greenville and Ross avenues with Freed’s furniture store.

In recent years, gentrification has taken root in the neighborhood, and an organic grocery has just moved in nearby. Ship’s isn’t likely to benefit from an influx of natural foods shoppers, and it doesn’t need to. Working-class folks have always found their way here.

Under a nautical blue awning, the padded blue door displays an ornamental anchor and opens into a long, narrow room lit mostly by beer signs. A dozen stools line the bar, and across the aisle is a row of booths with tables about the width of a laptop.

Lining walls cured by decades of tobacco smoke are old snapshots, tinged yellow. There’s still a poster of a Halloween party from 11 years ago.

In the Ship’s stern, a pool table seems to float off the ground within the hazy halo of an overhead Budweiser lamp, lending it an otherworldly aura. Behind the table, there’s a large mural of a treasure chest overflowing with gold coins. It’s painted on an old wooden storage cabinet that holds this Ship’s treasure: cartons of beer. A cigarette machine is parked in front of the bathrooms – it costs 7 bucks a pack.

Playing a game of 8-ball is Tom Scott and a buddy. The friend squints through the smoke of his Marlboro Light, while trying to ride the rail to put the 3-ball into the corner pocket.

Scott gave up smoking four years ago. But he’s not happy with the ban.

“I respect the rights of smokers,” says Scott, who makes custom fireplaces. “This City Council banning smoking – that’s Gestapo stuff!”

Barroom debate

Back at the bar, two regulars are arguing about growing corn, a debate that’s raged between them for years. Michael Kimball, a Boston native who moved to Dallas 30 years ago, insists he’s seen 12-foot cornstalks growing on Cape Cod. “They use seaweed as fertilizer,” says Kimball, a gourmet chef.

Roy Crumley isn’t buying it. A retired security guard, Crumley remembers corn growing to a height of 15 feet in his native Georgia.

Kimball, who quit smoking 10 years ago and Crumley, who has never smoked, do agree on one thing. Make that two.

They think the smoking ban is, in the words of Crumley, “foolish.” And they plan to continue arguing about corn, or whatever, right here at their regular bar as long as they can.

But it won’t be the same old, smoky hole-in-the-wall: That Ship’s has sailed.

Source: Dallasnews

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3 comments to Dallas smoking ban will drag away era of smoky pool halls, bars

  • First of all let me say that I don’t smoke in fact i hate cigarette’s smoke, but i think as you that part of the bars and pool halls idea is the cigarettes so I don’t like this ban, besides it outlaws a type of people from public places.

  • I live in Chicago and they have already had the cigarette ban for a couple of years. It doesn’t seem to bother the smokers too much. There are ashtrays outside about 15 feet away form the door. The smokers go have a cigarette and then come back and everyone seems happy.

  • The topic is quite trendy in the net at the moment. What do you pay attention to when choosing what to write ?

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