Ode to the Horse Brass

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I have an article at Doublethink today about the last days of smoking at the legendary Horse Brass Pub, one of the first places I felt at home when moving to Portland a few months ago. Debates over smoking bans tend to focus on the impacts on business, public health, and property rights. The culture that’s wiped out when smoking is banned gets much less attention. In this piece I try to convey what that culture means to those of us who love it.

Incidentally, I finally got to meet Don Younger, the pub’s owner, a few days after I submitted this. He’s not at all worried that his bar won’t survive the ban. The beer, the atmosphere, and the food are all too good for that to happen (and the Scotch eggs, incidentally, are probably far more dangerous to people’s hearts than all the cigarette smoke in Oregon — but totally worth it). When we ban opponents talk about the rights of business owners, we’re not just talking about them making money; as Don says, he didn’t get into the tavern business to get rich. We’re talking about not having a community that they’ve nurtured for more than 30 years wiped out at the whim of some busybodies in the state legislature.