By Alex Brandt
Local businesses are feeling the side effects of the smoking ban implemented on Jan. 2. The ban prohibits smoking indoors in St. Louis city and county, changing the regular flow of customers to bars and restaurants.
Highway 61 Roadhouse and Kitchen, a restaurant near Webster, is one of the many local businesses affected by this new law. Bill Kunz, owner of Roadhouse, said he is pleased with the ban
“One of the bartenders said that he noticed more people sitting at the bar,” Kunz said. “I think it’s good for business; non-smokers are more adamant.”
The smoking ban covers almost every indoor public establishment. This includes places that are usually hotspots for smoking, such as bowling alleys, billiard halls and restaurants, according to www.smokefreestl.org. Businesses that bring in 75 percent or more of revenue from alcohol and retail tobacco stores, and cigar bars that make 60 percent of their revenue from tobacco sales, are exempt from the ban.
Danno’s American Pub on Watson Road is exempt from the ban and has also seen a difference in the number of customers coming in. Kim Alexander, a bartender at Danno’s, said she knows of many businesses getting hit hard by the smoking ban, but Danno’s is not one of them.
“There have been new customers, but I don’t know if that’s because of the new bands we have playing or because of the ban,” Alexander said.
Robin Higgins, chair and director of legal studies at Webster, said she thinks the ban will actually help business.
“Once individuals become accustomed to certain establishments not allowing smoking, it should not be a problem,” Higgins said. “As a matter of fact, some businesses may gain new patrons, like me, because there is a no smoking policy.”
Since smoking was initially designated as unhealthy, the U.S. government has incorporated changes in laws regarding smoking and where one can smoke.
“The government has the right to ban smoking in those facilities (that receive government money or tax incentives),” Higgins said. “Now when we talk about privately owned establishments, there is the concern of competing interests, the interests of the owner of the establishment — financial, and the government’s interest — health.”
According to the text of the smoking ban law, smoking is permitted 15 feet away from the entrance of a public establishment. According to Webster’s student handbook, however, smoking outdoors is allowed but must be 30 feet away from the doors of a building.
Webster student Pierre Rojas, a junior marketing major, is a smoker. Rojas said he doesn’t think that banning indoor smoking is a bad thing.
“Growing up, my mother smoked inside our home. I didn’t like it, so I don’t smoke in my own home,” Rojas said. “I’m adaptable to change.”