This is not an Onion story

Edmonton’s anti-smoking law has a truly perverse consequence

    A “sober bar” that caters to recovering alcoholics was told Thursday to get a liquor licence and start serving alcohol if it wants to let customers smoke.

    If they start selling liquor, they’ll be tempting many patrons to return to addiction.

    “The city is forcing us to promote alcohol as the only way we can keep smoking,” co-owner Tom Charbonneau said. “Other restaurants and bars have that option, but we don’t.”

    Charbonneau and Lawrence Lathe opened Keep It Simple two years ago to give recovering alcoholics, gambling or drug addicts a bar-like atmosphere without the booze they have to shun. They also hold meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and other 12-step programs in a back room.

    Most former addicts smoke; it gives them at least one vice, Charbonneau said.

The bar isn’t permitted to allow smoking without a liquor license. The city won’t give them a liquor license because they don’t plan to serve liquor.

Where is Joseph Heller when you need him?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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