For the last few days, I’ve noticed smokers everywhere: outside the media center, inside Arthur Ashe, outside the food courts, even courtside. If there is a policy about smoking, it’s not being applied. Which is just fine by the smokers.
"I was smoking up against the railing [in Ashe] earlier, and some guy, the beer vendor, said to me, ‘You’re not supposed to do that,’ but he said that everyone does anyway,’" said Kurt Anderson, a 31-year-old manager at P.J. Clarke’s, who smokes American Spirits blue.
"You can get a light anywhere too," he added.
And it’s true!
"I’m kind of surprised about it," said a New York Post reporter who didn’t want to be identified as a smoker.
Right next to Arthur Ashe, 34-year-old Drey Ruiz-Diaz, and his wife were in smoking bliss with a pair of Parliament Lights. Mr. Diaz said that "in this day and age, if someone wants to fuck with you" there are enough people around to surely do it.
And no one does. (By comparison, at the soon-to-be-open Mets stadium next door, Citi Field, no smoking will be permitted whatsover).
But maybe it’s the culture of tennis that permits it. Matt Cronin, a writer for Inside Tennis, said that he’s the last of his kind (an American tennis reporter who smokes), but that at many of the foreign tournaments, especially the French Open, smoking is widespread, including in the outdoor media section at Roland Garros. He said up until six years ago, you’d see photographers sitting courtside at the French Open with sucettes a cancer in their mouths and smoke billowing over the tennis court.
So maybe Queens isn’t quite so liberal. But it could be a lot worse.
"Smoking here is far beyond what you’ll see at some of the tournaments in California," he said.