Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Tattoos, Tofu & Tobacco

Posted May 14, 2009

First off, I love Asheville. My godfather, Henry Colton, lives there. So does pianist Bill Covington, one of the finest musicians I know. The mountain setting is gorgeous. Asheville has a thriving downtown area and some wonderful restaurants including my favorite Rezaz in Biltmore Village. And if you’ve ever spent a relaxing weekend at the Grove Park Inn, you know what I mean. Asheville is an awesome town.

That’s why I chuckled the other day when a gym friend told me about her weekend in Asheville. She was in the Land of the Sky for a wedding. “What was it like,” I asked.  “Well, it was an interesting combination of tattoos, tofu and tobacco!”

The bridesmaids wore beautiful strapless dresses which revealed a wild collage of colorful tattoos. The food at the wedding reception was grade A granola or top notch tofu. Very organic, if you get my drift. But afterwards the wedding party seemed to negate their wholesome culinary regimen by puffing away on cigarettes. I guess it’s hard to give up all vices but in this day and age smoking seems to be one of the worst.

Many years ago when I was in radio I smoked. I realized I had a problem one night while working with Rick Dees at WKIX. I looked around the newsroom and noticed that I had three different cigarettes lit at once. I vowed then to quit. Eventually I did. Cindy added an incentive by saying: “I’ll never marry you if you keep smoking.” I did give it up but it was one of the toughest things I have ever done.

Today I report on a new smoking ban approved by the Legislature. Governor Bev Perdue is expected to sign a bill barring smoking in most restaurants and bars statewide. As the old Virginia Slim commercials used to say: “We’ve come a long way, baby!”  We really have and I’m glad to smell the fresh air again.

What are your thoughts about the smoking ban and the quirky personality of Asheville? I would love to hear them.


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  • cedwards24 May 15, 2009

    As a native of Asheville, I find it amusing that people are surprised by the character of the town and its people. I enjoyed and still enjoy the so-called "character", growing up there you just accept it as the norm. Mountain folk have a free spirit about them, must be the elevation.

    As for the smoking ban, I welcome the change, why should I have to breath someone else's smoke.

  • lbzebulon May 15, 2009

    If second-hand smoke caused cancer like everyone says it does. Why is there such a large population of people in the world? We would all be dead by now right? Cancer cells cause cancer not second hand smoke. I know people who have smoked their whol;e lives and have lived well up into their 80's and 90's and when they passed away it was natural causes not cancer. Get a life people if you don't want to be around it stay the heck away from it. I am so sick of hearing about it. Tobacco is what made NC and now you all want to ignore that. Well I don't. When there is no more tobacco left around to tax I don't want to hear all these non smokers complaining because their rights have been violated because they are having to be taxed for something they do.

  • br549znc May 15, 2009

    One of the best things the legislature has done in a long time.

  • RaleighRob May 15, 2009

    Based on the title, I figured the article had to be either Asheville or Carrboro. Both are quirky towns that help make this an interesting state.

  • terrible terrier May 15, 2009

    If you want to smoke, it's OK with me. Just don't exhale!

    People claim the "right" to smoke. By that reasoning they have the "right" to put poison in my food and water.

  • abbync2001 May 15, 2009

    When I saw the headline, I just KNEW you had to be referring to Asheville! I love that town.

    As for the smoking ban, I believe it is an intrusion on the rights of the business owner. If any laws are passed they should be along the lines of "If your establishment has a smoking section, that fact should be posted on the front door or in the corridor in plain view of prospective customers."

  • Raleighnative58 May 14, 2009

    I quit 23-1/2 years ago...still want one, but know not having one is best. Yes, to no smoking...I'm all for it!

  • iamyeary May 14, 2009

    Delighted. My Father was a pioneer. In the 1970's I remember that anytime our family went to a restaurant, he would ask to be moved to another table if someone was smoking like a chimney near our table. I was always a little embarrassed, but we knew he was right. He was a jogger also, and got funnie looks from folks as he ran by them, and they would yell, what's the hurry? I guess he always had the right idea for a healthy life! He is 85 years old today and is still running!

  • ceatman May 14, 2009

    Still gotta wait till Jan 2 for the ban to go into effect. Wish it were today.

  • thefensk May 14, 2009

    Considering that now they are aslo finding third-hand smoke (from residue) to be a hazard, it is probably a pretty good time to be doing this. I realize that smokers think they have a right to smoke, and they do, but they also have to be aware that everyone else has a right to not breath their smoke.

    I think someone should come up with something similar to the tv show GET SMART's old "cone of silence" ... that might fit the bill for some smokers.

    On tatoos ... a while back my wife had an MRI and the technician commented that she hadn't seen someone WITHOUT a tatoo in a couple of weeks.




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