Columbia Set to Discuss Smoking Ban

1 decade 2 years 1 week ago Thursday, October 05 2006 Oct 5, 2006 Thursday, October 05, 2006 7:31:42 AM CDT October 05, 2006 in News

Now, many people can smell the change in Lawrence.

"If you go home and even give somebody a hug, you smell like smoke," said bartender and smoker Travis Lower. "You make them smell like smoke, and your whole laundry basket smells like smoke. If I go outside and just smoke by myself, it's going to be a slight smell."

Lighting up outside bars is still legal, so some owners have added outdoor seats or patios for smokers.

"It's added more volume to their business," explained restaurant manager AdamWhite, "because you have an entire other area you can go drink in, go smoke in."

However, the ban's effect on business is still somewhat hazy.

"When someone's told they're not welcome anymore in a place that they've been to for years, the business suffers," said bar owner Chuck Magerl, who noted that six months after the ban began, drinking tax revenues dropped 1.7%, which meant lower profits for the city's bars.

But, the ban has been good for former smokers like White, who kicked the habit a year after the new law kicked in.

"I didn't have smoke being blown in my face for 5 hours every night, so that did help me quit," he admitted. "I mean, no one even thinks about it now. Two years ago it was a huge deal, but now it's just the standard, it's just the norm."

Dennis Steffes, who owns two Lawrence bars, complained the law is too vague, but a Douglas County judge already has ruled in favor of the ban. Now, the case is in the Kansas Supreme Court.

Thursday, KOMU will show you both sides of the smoking debate in Columbia, where bar owners argue it's about the right to choose while non-smokers respond that it's about their health.

The Columbia City Council will hold a public hearing next Monday on its proposed anti-smoking law.

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