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Nicotine Nannies claim smoking bans are good for business. But if that were the case, could this list exist, and could it be so huge? (Please note, this is only a small sample of articles available on the subject.)

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Smoking ban leaves some bars smoldering

 
Sunday, November 18th, 2007

In the first month of Ohio’s public smoking ban, the little bar in a blue-collar Summit County neighborhood lost $1,000.

The reason was obvious: The bar’s owner followed the law, telling customers they couldn’t smoke. The bar’s competitors didn’t, and some even ”rented” ashtrays to customers, with the money going into a kitty to defray any smoking-violation fines.

The bar-hopping customers stopped hopping into the little bar. And the regulars, although they kept coming, were buying fewer drinks.

They’d spend 20 minutes at the bar drinking a beer, then 10 minutes outside smoking,” said the owner, who spoke anonymously to protect himself from health department inspectors. ”Instead of drinking five or six beers, they were drinking one or two.

After losing a grand in May, the bar owner changed course in June.

”I figured if that pace kept up,” he said, ”I’d be out of business before anyone else. So I said, what I’ll do is I’ll let them smoke until we get caught. The next month, instead of losing $1,000, we made $2,500 more.”

And he hasn’t been caught.

”I had to make a decision,” he said. ”I just decided to break the law and be done with it. It’s like speeding on the highway — you’re breaking the law, but until you get caught, you’re going to keep speeding, I guess.”

In Akron, Corky’s Thomastown Cafe on South Arlington Street has drawn the most complaints: 37.

Owner Billy McFrye is facing a $100 fine, on top of a loss of customers.

”People aren’t coming out,” he said. ”I’ve got numbers from last year to this year, and you can see it. It’s unreal. It’s gross. It’s down at least 25 percent.”

He remembers hearing the argument that nonsmokers would come out to take the place of smokers who stay home. But that hasn’t happened at Corky’s.

”Nonsmokers don’t go out anyway,” McFrye said. ”They’re the cheapest people breathing air. I’ve been in business 23 years, and I know there’s nothing cheaper than a nonsmoker. I’m really upset with it. I wish the people who voted for it would get cancer, that’s how pissed I am about it.”

McFrye built a patio for smokers so they could go outside and smoke without having to deal with rain, wind and snow. The health department, however, told him he couldn’t allow smoking on the patio because the patio’s roof and walls make it an enclosed space — and the law prohibits smoking in enclosed public spaces.

McFrye has an attorney fighting his fine and the health department’s ruling on the patio. In the meantime, he’s going to continue to let customers light up.

”I’ve got the signs up and ask them not to,” he said, ”but I’m not going to fight with anyone over smoking.”

Christ has heard that before.

”I’ve had owners tell me that as long as they’re open, they’re going to allow their customers to smoke,” she said. ”The next fine is $500. That might have a little bearing on that decision.”

At the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on Portage Trail in Cuyahoga Falls, {bingo} business dropped by 25 percent after the smoking ban went into effect, parishioner Matt Pagni said.

Instead of breaking the law to allow smoking, the church bought propane heaters to put just outside the gym doors, along with free coffee. This spring, the church built a patio with chairs, ashtrays and an awning. Volunteers will play patrons’ bingo cards if they have to slip out for a smoke.

Now the church’s bingo business is back to at least 95 percent of what it was before the smoking ban. (So after all that extra expense, they’re still making less money.)

Bars, though, are in a different situation, said Jacob Evans, spokesman for the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association.

”We’re hearing from a lot of bars who are talking about drops in sales ranging from 30 to 40 percent, some 80 percent,” he said. ”And some say they’ve had a 100 percent drop because they’ve had to go ahead and close their doors.”

And, now, winter is on the way.

”What’s going to happen now when people have to step outside (to smoke)? If it’s bad now,” Evans said, ”it’s going to be devastating with the cold weather.”

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