Na een oproep van een lokaal radiostation zijn in New Jersey zo’n 300 werkers in striptenten en zo’n 3000 andere personen de straat opgegaan om te protesteren tegen het kersverse rookverbod in New Jersey. Het rookverbod is afgekondigd voor alle werkplekken en in de horeca, met uitzondering van de casino’s, die een succesvolle lobby hebben gevoerd tegen een rookverbod in hun branche.
Onder de 3000 andere actievoerders zijn caféeigenaren, Vietnam veteranen en zelfs mensen uit Maryland. Op de meegevoerde borden zijn leuzen te lezen als: “Defy Anti-Smoking Nazis” en “Tobacco Control Is Out of Control“.
De stripdames schijnen, met uitzondering van een enkele blote buik, hun kleding aan te houden….
With curious officeworkers gawking and strip-bar standards playing in the background, several hundred people joined a handful of exotic dancers in front of the Statehouse on Thursday to rally against New Jersey’s new indoor smoking ban.
About 20 of the women _ who, to the disappointment of some in the crowd, didn’t reveal anything more risque than their midriffs _ said the ban will result in lost clients and lost money.
“It’s going to murder our business,” said Dominique Hernandez, 24, who dances at a lounge in Florence. “A lot of people want to get off of work, have a drink and a smoke and watch some pretty girls. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Apparently not, judging by the looks Hernandez _ in tight jeans and a revealing black T-shirt _ received from onlookers.
“I’m just passing by on the way to the office,” was the refrain from many men, and some women, in the crowd.
But many said they came to protest the smoking ban, saying it was a violation of their rights.
“I’ve been a smoker since I was 13 and it’s really against our rights,” said Allan Brophy, 24, of Union. “Pretty soon they’re going to be outlawing it in our houses.”
Brophy did admit that word of strippers at the rally had “peaked my interest.”
The rally, trumpeted by two radio shock jocks, featured signs that read “Defy Anti-Smoking Nazis” and “Tobacco Control Is Out of Control.” In the background, a loudspeaker blared typical strip bar tunes such as “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and “Girls, Girls, Girls.”
“We’re standing up for the average Jersey citizen who on their own would never be heard,” said Craig Carton, one of the radio hosts on New Jersey 101.5.
The ban, which affects bars and restaurants _ but not gambling areas of casinos _ is to be signed into law Sunday by Gov. Richard J. Codey.
The strippers and their supporters said they oppose the ban, which is designed to protect employees and customers from second-hand smoke, because it will hurt business.