This story did not turn out the way I expected.
For one, for a ban that has been consistently getting turned down for twenty years despite constant campaigning by powerful forces like the American Cancer Society, one would think that finding an argument against the bill would be simple. It really wasn’t.
While I eventually found a dissenting view, the smokers who would give me the time of day even admitted that they wouldn’t smoke in bars or restaurants anyway. Many of them said they wouldn’t smoke if not for addictive properties.
I am admittedly biased against smoking, given I have severe lung problems from my mother’s constant second-hand smokes fumes growing up. But I braved the fronts of gas stations and smoking circles to find my dissenting view. It was only the day of deadline that I realized how stupid my methods have been; if I wanted to find someone who is for smoking in bars and restaurants I go to bars and restaurants where people are smoking.
It’s a simple concept. The people buying cigs are naturally in a hurry, people outside smoking need to get to work. But the people smoking at bars are relaxing and socializing, which often means giving their political views openly to anyone. Luckily, I am still but a fledgling journalist. Anything I find out this early in my career can be used as a stepping stone towards greater competency later.
The most obvious people to talk to would be bar owners who allow daytime smoking. However, that leaves pretty much just the downtown Boston Beanery, and I don’t want to try and compete with the State Journal or Charlestown Gazette on sourcing. This is fairly big news, so I tried to at least find a fairly different source and have a little more general info on smoking that would be in the average hard-and-fast news story.
With Juliana Frederick, I received a bevy of information. Despite her tendency to talk very quickly, I found her to be a very helpful person. I could tell her passion for the cause. She is in charge of what is essentially public relations for local causes of ACS. She knew I was thinking of coming ahead of time, but had no concrete answer until just ten minutes before. Still, she was ready with prepared answers, a prepared space, and tons of literature. It felt great to meet someone who could basically conduct an interview for me.
I could have interviewed the mayor, but he’s very much behind this ban. I needed pro-smoking, not pro-ban.
All in all, I liked the story at first, but the puzzling scramble for supportive smokers was a headache. If I ever have to do a story again, I’ll buy a smoking bar-hopper a drink.
-Joshua Jazz Stephen Clark