A 2011 sign in Kentucky saying that smoking is allowed in the venue

Smokeasy (also spelled smoke-easy or smokeeasy) is a term which came briefly into use in the wake of government-imposed smoking bans in businesses. It refers to bars and other venues that encourage evasion of the ban. The term has also been used to describe locations and events promoted by tobacco companies to avoid or evade bans on smoking.[1] The word was added to the New Oxford American Dictionary in 2005,[2] although it was used as early as 1978.[3][4] It is a portmanteau of smoking and speakeasy. As smoking bans have become generally accepted, the term has fallen into disuse.

High levels of compliance with smoke-free laws have been reported in most jurisdictions including New York,[5] Ireland,[6] Italy[7] and Scotland.[8] Poor compliance was reported in Kolkata.[9]

Tobacco companies and smokeasies

Tobacco companies have used a variety of tactics to encourage the sale and consumption of cigarettes in the presence of smoking bans, and the term smokeasy has commonly been used to describe events and establishments of this kind. Imperial Tobacco hires public venues to promote its Peter Stuyvesant brand.[1][10] In Chicago, RJ Reynolds established an "upscale smoking lounge" serving alcohol and food, but classified as a retail tobacco store.[11]


New York City

Within one month of the passage of New York City's smoking ban in 2003, smokeasies were quickly predicted.[12] Shortly thereafter, some bartenders began to hear word of smokeasies and theorized that some former regulars who were smokers had switched to the smokeasies.[13] By 2013, acceptance of the law was general, with the Onondaga County Health Department saying that they were receiving and investigating very few complaints.[14]


In Hawaii, some establishments announced their intention to defy the statewide smoking ban, one of America's strictest, which went into effect on November 16, 2006.[15][16][17] However, bans have been successively tightened over time.

The Netherlands

With the passing of a 2008 smoking ban, many Dutch cafes had become smokeasies despite facing fines up to 18,500 Euros. Dutch pub owners voiced their defiance and organized a 1500-5000 owner strong public protest of the ban in November, 2008.[18]

After two years of continued opposition by bar and cafe owners, in the fall of 2010 the Dutch government repealed the ban for smaller bars and cafes which had complained loudly about loss of business.[19] The bans were reinstated and extended in 2018.[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Peter Stuyvesant's Adelaide Smokeasy | The Enthusiast". Archived from the original on 2010-05-06.
  2. ^ "New Words," Chicago Tribune, June 5, 2005.
  3. ^ Melinda Beck, "No Smoking," Newsweek, October 2, 1978
  4. ^ Wordspy: Smoke-easy
  5. ^ "tobaccofreecenter.org" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Record compliance with smoking ban – The Irish Times – Mon, 22 Jun 2009". 6 June 2009.
  7. ^ "Times Higher Education – Italian smoking ban leads to drop in heart attacks". 2006-10-03.
  8. ^ "Smoking ban gets seal of public approval" (Press release). Scottish Government. 26 June 2006. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013.
  9. ^ "Smoking ban up in smoke in Kolkata". 24 February 2009.
  10. ^ Starke, Petra (April 5, 2009). "AdelaideNow... Secret smokes party for VIPs". Sunday Mail (SA).
  11. ^ "Chicago's (Legal) Smokeasy - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine". 19 January 2006.
  12. ^ Smoking Ban NYC Profile - 28 days.
  13. ^ "Sidewalk Soakings," Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine The Villager, June 25, 2003.
  14. ^ Cazentre, Don (6 August 2013). "Ten years later, New York's smoking ban barely raises a puff of discontent (with poll on your opinion)". syracuse.com. Retrieved 16 April 2024.
  15. ^ Dean Carrico, "Thank you for [not] smoking: Bartenders and bar owners continue to ignore smoking ban," Honolulu Weekly, June 27, 2007
  16. ^ Mark Niesse, "Smoking ban openly defied by some bars," The Honolulu Advertiser, February 18, 2007
  17. ^ Laurie Au, "Smoking-ban rules, enforcement coming: Bar owners OK with patrons defying smoking ban," The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 30, 2007
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2020-05-16. Retrieved 2016-11-12.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ NBC News http://www.nbcnews.com/id/39992553
  20. ^ Blog-vapr https://blog-vape.com/en/2018/02/26/smoking-in-public-places-banned-in-the-netherlands/