Starbucks’ Restraining Order

Statutory Warning: Cigarette Smoking is injurious to health. This post is not pro-smoking, neither is it anti-smoking. If you are easily offended by posts that discuss smoking issues, please click here.

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I’ve never liked Starbucks.

The coffee they serve is quite bland, bleached of flavour just like their decor is bleached of  vibrancy. I’ve only ever been to Starbucks if there was no other place to go to or if I was taken there by someone. This was when I used to travel to the US. Thankfully, in the UK you had some wonderful options like Nero. In India, of course Barista was good for a while, but you hardly see it anywhere after Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) came up. CCD is decent, if they could get their service in shape, when they do serve, i.e.

Since June 1, Starbucks has imposed a ban on smoking within 25 feet of their stores, in North America, and apparently, they are enforcing it. It’s quite amusing, when you think of Starbucks, especially in New York, for example — most Starbucks outlets are so close to each other that their 25′ no-smoking circumferences are often going to overlap. Of course, we still don’t know if we can smoke in the radius of another Starbucks outlet, even if we have purchased coffee from another one. It would be interesting to see which outlet will enforce the ban. Talk of jurisdictional disputes.

Google Map Snap of Starbucks outlets in New York

Google Map Snap of Starbucks outlets in New York – all the red dots included

It also means that a street-side outlet now has a jurisdiction over the adjoining (public) pavement. And it is no surprise that the city council seems to be willing to relinquish that jurisdictional authority of public property to a private enterprise.  Greater good, I am sure.

Of the various news items related to this, one thing isn’t quite clear. Is smoking banned only for Starbucks’ customers in that 25′ region or is it applicable even to people just walking & smoking along the pavement who have bought their coffee-to-go from Peet’s Coffee and Tea? What if they aren’t having coffee at all?

Starbucks launched in India – with the Tatas.  I was a bit surprised by that venture by the Tatas, given that Tata Coffee is the largest integrated coffee plantation company in the world and Tata Tea is the world’s second largest manufacturer and distributor of tea. You’d think that as far as beverages go, they had it pretty much covered, and could have started their own chain.

I haven’t been to a single Starbucks since they launched in India, and now it seems like all the more reason not to. Not that any coffee shop allows smoking inside, and most smokers are happy to step out for five minutes and come back in, but this 25-feet wide draconian move by Starbucks just leaves a bitter taste.

Unlike their coffee, I may add.

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