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Bavaria, Germany, banned smoking in clubs, bars and restaurants at midnight on Dec. 31, but troops say they'll cope. Separate smoking rooms aren't permitted.

Bavaria, Germany, banned smoking in clubs, bars and restaurants at midnight on Dec. 31, but troops say they'll cope. Separate smoking rooms aren't permitted. (Mark St.Clair / S&S)

BAMBERG, Germany — The cobblestones outside the entrance to the Green Goose seem almost paved with cigarette butts.

At 2 a.m. on Saturday, more than a dozen people stood near the door of the club in small circles or alone, chatting or quietly puffing away.

About a week ago, GI and German smokers were happily dragging inside, but like other Bavarian clubs, bars and restaurants, the Goose went smoke-free at the stroke of midnight Dec. 31.

Some clubs, such as Bamberg’s Sound ’n Arts, are making themselves members-only, with a membership that embraces nicotine.

New members can sign up at the door and smoke to their heart’s content for a nominal fee.

For several young smokers at Bamberg’s Warner Barracks, the ban won’t change their daily routine much.

“It doesn’t matter if I smoke in a building or outside, as long as I can smoke, it’s OK,” said Pvt. Joseph McGuffie, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Special Troops Battalion.

A native of San Diego, McGuffie, 19, just arrived in Germany. Used to the restrictions California puts on smoking, McGuffie said he’ll still find a way to smoke his two cigars and six-to-seven cigarettes every day.

“I don’t like it [the ban], but I can understand that people don’t want to be smoked out … it’s going to suck when there’s 30 people by the door, though,” said Pvt. Robert Lambert of the 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.

Also 19, Lambert hails from Westland, Mich. When asked if there’s still smoking in his hometown, Lambert simply said, “Oh yeah.”

Another understanding yet disappointed soldier is Fayetteville, Ga.-native Spc. Alex Loth of the 630th Military Police Company.

“It’s good for public health; they should just section smokers off. I understand banning it and everything. It’s a public health concern,” said Loth, 23.

A four-year smoker who goes through half a pack a day, Loth said that although a ban makes sense, “It sucks having to go outside in the cold (to smoke).”

Loth’s idea of sectioning smokers off might seem reasonable to some. But Bavaria has taken the toughest stance of any German state by not allowing restaurants to have separate smoking rooms.


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