Archive for Friday, January 10, 2003

Smoking ban in restaurants begins in Salina

Voter-approved law goes into effect

January 10, 2003


— Salina's ban on smoking in restaurants went into effect Thursday, applauded by some and criticized by others who see it as an infringement on their rights.

The ordinance was approved eight months ago but delayed by a petition drive that put the matter to a vote in November. Voters favored the smoking ban 59 percent to 41 percent.

"It's not fair. I should have the right to smoke in my own establishment," said Robin Roberts, owner of a pizza restaurant. "I'm going to have to go outside and smoke. I've got work to do, man."

The ordinance prohibits smoking in restaurants between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., but some restaurants are banning it altogether.

"There are so many nonsmoking restaurants, I have people that, when they found out they could come in here and smoke, I picked up a lot of customers," Roberts said. "Now, people are just going to stay home."

Another restaurant owner said he had customers who didn't like the ban, but there was nothing he could do about it.

"I'm just putting up signs and telling people, 'It's not my fault,"' said cafe owner BJ Baker. "So far, I've had a few customers ask when it would be in effect, and I told them the ninth, and they would just grumble. I even had one lady say she'd never come back because of it."

For one restaurant owner, the smoking ban is changing the whole nature of his business.

Jack Cossette's business had been billed as a "billiards and dining establishment," he said, but now it's becoming a nightclub with a disc jockey.

The format change will allow him to reduce his food sales to less than 30 percent of the receipts, which exempts him from the smoking ordinance.

Cossette said the nature of his business, which he has owned since March, made it vulnerable to the ordinance, so he had no choice but to change.

"A lot of our customers play pool and games and stuff and like to smoke," he said. "I'm not in favor of (the ordinance), but we do what we have to do."

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