Smoking or Non-Smoking? Who Cares?
California restaurants are blessed with clean air. There is a state-wide ban on smoking in public places, so you never, ever have to have that little “Smoking or non-smoking?” conversation with the waiter as you enter a restaurant. You never have to scan the room to find a table that’s as far as possible from any customers who are smoking or may start at any minute (see the pack of cigarettes sitting on their table?). You don’t have to assess every newcomer and guess whether or not he looks like a smoker and if he does, whether or not he is heading for a table near yours. You can freely go to a restaurant you’ve never been to before without wondering if they’ll have a non-smoking section and without needing Plan B in case they don’t. You can come home from dinner with your clothes smelling the way they did when you left. Which means that you don’t have to take your smelly clothes to the dry cleaner…
There are countries in Europe that have a smoking ban in operation too, and I’m lucky to live in one: Ireland. Each time I go to the Czech Republic, or indeed to any other country where peoople smoke in pubs in restaurants, it’s like going back in time.
What’s interesting is that different countries have different motivations for introducing such bans. In Ireland, the idea is not to protect the public but to protect employees. It is illegal to smoke in all enclosed workspaces, including restarants, pubs, trains, hospitals… This is why you’ll never find a smoking compartment on an Irish train, for example.
See also Wikipedia: Smoking bans by country.