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Smoking ban affects local businesses

A bill passed last month by the state legislature added Michigan to the list of states that do not allow smoking cigarettes or cigars in restaurants and bars. Effective May 1, the bill has faced mixed response from citizens across the state, including in Marquette.

The Doghouse, a pub in Marquette that allows smoking, will have to completely ban smoking indoors and ask the smokers to step outside to take a drag. Owner Jonathan "Dogg" Mahler is unhappy with this change and projects that it will hurt his business.

"My place was always somewhere [smokers] enjoyed to come because there were no rules about where to smoke," Mahler said. "They don't have to go outside and smoke and freeze their butts off like a bunch of criminals to smoke a cigarette."

Mahler estimated that 80 percent of his clientele smoke and often customers come to his pub specifically because smoking is permitted. Mahler said he understands smoking is unhealthy but feels such a decision should not be up to the government to make.

"I'm not trying to argue that smoking's bad for you, but so is drinking. We're adults, we have our own right to make personal choices," Mahler said.

Mahler said that such a decision should be left up to owners, especially since so many businesses have already decided to go smokeless. The Upfront, a restaurant and entertainment spot in Marquette, decided to make the change before May and became smoke-free after New Year's Eve.

According to Jon Aruuska, general manager of The Upfront, going smokeless was already planned, and the new law was encouragement for the change.

"The new state law makes it easier on us because now everyone will be on a level playing field," Aruuska said.

The band that played on Jan. 1 requested a smoke-free environment, so Aruuska said that the timing worked out for making the general switch. He thinks that the law is a good idea, especially because it will minimize the amount of secondhand smoke that non-smokers are subject to.

But Aruuska has noticed that sometimes, even smokers appreciate the change.

"You even hear it from some smokers that they don't like to be in a real heavily smoky environment either. Your clothes smell like it when you go home," Aruuska said.

Anthony Eisner, a senior biology major, often smokes when he goes to the Doghouse, Remy's and Stucko's. He said that the change shouldn't come as a shock to smokers, as so many public buildings already do not allow smoking.

"If you're a smoker, you tend not to have a problem stepping outside to have your smoke," Eisner said. "So for not smoking inside of a bar, people are just going to step outside to have a drag or two."

Eisner believes that the ban will ultimately minimize the amount of smokers, reducing the amount of "social smokers," people who smoke as they socialize, something that often occurs in bars or restaurants.

"I think by not being allowed to drink with smoke in the air and not have people around you smoking while you're drinking … you're going to have a lower number of young individuals who pick up the habit," Eisner said.

Eisner doesn't believe that businesses will be affected from this change. He said that those who go to bars to drink and smoke will still be looking for a place to drink.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Source: The North Wind Online

Smoking ban affects local businesses