New York In a smoke-choked Manhattan tavern, Cynthia Candiotti asked a neighbor for a light and took a deep drag on her cigarette, savoring a last barstool puff before the city outlawed smoking in bars and nightclubs.
For Candiotti, 26, the ban is a double whammy: "I can't tell you how many dates with cute guys I've gotten by looking into his eyes while he lights me up. That's as good as smoking."
With fear, loathing and lament, the city of Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart and Philip Morris USA ushered in the smoke-free age today, one tick after midnight.
"First they cleaned up Times Square, then they said you couldn't dance in bars or drink a beer in the park. Now you can't even smoke when you go out on the town," said Willie Martinez, 37, who sat, chain-smoking, in an East Village bar. "This is like no-fun city."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former smoker himself, pushed through the ban with a zeal that angered smokers and even some nonsmokers. He stood firm even when an incensed smoker wearing a Superman suit showed up at City Hall carrying a 12-foot-long model cigarette and a sign threatening him.
"Fundamentally, people just don't want the guy next to them smoking," Bloomberg said. "People will adjust very quickly and a lot of lives will be saved."
The ban covers all workplaces, including bars, small restaurants, bingo parlors and other venues not covered by the city's previous smoking law.