Say no to smoking ban

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Have you asked bar patrons and employees how they feel about a smoking ban?

First, I'll tell you that I'm a smoker, and I like to go out on weekends, listen to music and have a drink with my friends, most of whom are smokers. As I looked around last Friday night at The Viking, I noticed that most of the patrons were smoking. All of the bartenders were. My spouse and I wandered down to The Triangle and noticed the same thing. Most of the patrons smoking and I know the bartenders who work there smoke too.

I understand Ms. Cahill and her group are concerned about bartenders and servers being exposed to secondhand smoke and the health risks it poses. But I'm wondering if she bothered to ask the bartenders and servers what they think? The ones I've spoken to in the last few days are opposed to banning smoking in bars. They choose to work in that environment; no one is forcing them. Several of them also made the point that most patrons are smokers.

I believe that this will hurt bar owners where it really counts. This will be very hard on their revenues, which in turn will mean that the city will get less in tax revenue, which in turn will affect our already inadequate coffers. Our town can't afford to lose any more businesses and this will do it as surely as it will rain.

I've heard the argument that when the bar at the airport became smoke-free that it didn't affect their business. I know that it did; they lost almost 65 percent of their revenue because of that. Do people still go into the bar at the airport? Sure, because if they're waiting for a plane there are only so many places to wait and this airport is the only game in town. There are other bars in town that are smoke-free and most of our restaurants are smoke-free.

On another front, if you think the streets downtown are crowded during tourist season now, just wait until no one can smoke in bars. Those cruise ship personnel who spend their off hours playing pool and singing karaoke in our bars downtown smoke. So do a lot of those tourists who get off those ships and spend money in our town. If this goes through, they will all be stepping outside to stand on the sidewalk, look around for an ashtray, which they probably won't find, or maybe toss it into a garbage can. I can see it now: South Franklin Street blazing from every garbage can on both sides of the street, not to mention the sheer volume of garbage that will be added to what already gets pitched onto the sidewalk.

The group spearheading this effort to ban smoking in all workplaces, including bars and bar/restaurants is dictating a little too much. I also have to wonder if the members of the clean air coalition frequent bars? Are you regular customers? The ones who tip their smoking bartenders? Are you going to become regular customers if the bars become smoke-free?

Julie Rehfeld


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