Survey Highlights Restaurant Smoking
Rennier said more than 200 Columbia restaurants participated in the survey, and two-thirds of those that opened in the past three years are already smoke-free or allow patio-only smoking.
The survey also showed restaurants that aren't smoke-free designed dining rooms to handle smoking.
"I spent, basically when I built the restaurant, $25,000 more on the next level of air-handling, the HVAC, to accommodate for smoke," said owner David Rowe.
Even with the number of smoking restaurants dropping, some say there are still too many places where smoking is a nuisance.
"I don't go out at night. I don't go to the bars. You know, it's hard to go to concerts and things because of all the smoke and it's hard to enjoy yourself," complained Taelin Frasier, restaurant general manager.
So, while some non-smokers hope for a smoke-free Columbia by law, others hope the trend toward voluntary non-smoking provides a middle ground without regulation.