Smoking ban has no effect on restaurants

Staff writer

Joshua Weston’s hands shake every time he finishes drinking a cup of coffee at his favorite local eatery.

“It’s a sign that I need a cigarette, but I can’t smoke in here,” he said, while eating a meal at Zimmerman’s deli and coffee shop in Marion. “Usually, I just go outside and smoke but, on windy days, it’s hard to stand out in the cold. I would like to smoke indoors, but there would be hell to pay if I did.”

Weston is one of the Marion residents who smoke every day, but isn’t allowed to light a cigarette inside a restaurant or bar, due to the 2010 Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act. When implemented, lawmakers didn’t know how private businesses would be affected. But three years later, the Kansas Health Institute released their survey findings and discovered that the statewide smoking band had no effect on restaurant and bar sales.

Many, like Weston, said they are not willing to give up going to their favorite restaurants just because they are not allowed to smoke indoors. They said that if they could not resist the urge, they would just step outside for a moment to get their fix.

“I know the dangers of secondhand smoke,” he said. “It makes sense that they would ban it. I don’t mind going outside — unless it gets really cold or windy out there.”

Others, like Justin Welch, said they refuse to smoke while they are in town because they do not want to hurt other people.

“If I know that I’m going to town, I’ll just smoke about 15 minutes before I leave,” he said. “That usually takes care of the nicotine craving, and I can just go into town and do what I need to do. The ban exists for a good reason — no one wants to get lung cancer.”

Local restaurateurs said they appreciate people’s willingness to step outside before they light up. Most agreed that their sales had not been affected by the smoking ban, at least not to their knowledge.

“If we were a drinking establishment, I’m sure we would be affected,” said Sherry Hess of the Wagon Wheel
restaurant in Marion. “People around here just come, get their food, and leave.”

A few residents, like Margaret Carson, said they have never smoked and, therefore, have never seriously thought about the ban.

“People can do what they want to do,” she said. “I really don’t care. I guess I appreciate being able to eat without someone breathing that nasty smoke in my face. That’s a plus.”

Looking forward, local business owners hope their customers will continue to respect the statewide smoking ban, knowing that it is there for one purpose: to keep their patrons healthy.

 

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