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HomeNewsLocal
Published: 8/21/2003

Bars feel heat from smoke ban

BY RACHEL ZINN AND DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

Several restaurant managers moaned yesterday when they learned a petition to put the ban on the November ballot had too few signatures to force a vote on the issue.

“The ban will dramatically affect our business,” Rick Grafing, owner of Ragtime Rick's in South Toledo, said. “I know the day after the ban hits, people are going to come in and be awfully upset.”

David Jakubowski, owner of Doc Watson's at Glendale Avenue and Byrne Road, is planning to construct a separate smoking area required by the new Toledo law, which goes into effect Monday.

“With the current economy, it's going to be hard to pull money out of nowhere to build,” he said.

But doing so will keep South Toledoan Al Winters coming back to Doc Watson's.

“I'll go to places where I can smoke,” Mr. Winters said while having a beer and a cigarette yesterday evening. “If this place went nonsmoking, I'd probably limit my coming here.”

Some establishments lack funds or space to create a smoking area with separate ventilation, so owners will make the entire building non-smoking.

Jan Myers, owner of Al Smith's Place in West Toledo, said the restaurant's layout makes it difficult to follow the law, which says patrons should not have to walk through the smoking room to reach restrooms.

“Even if we could wall off the smoking section, the restrooms are in the back of the restaurant and you have to walk through smoking to get there,” she said.

Over at his ragtime caf , Mr. Grafing probably will heat the patio so smokers can go there in the winter, but he said adding an indoor smoking lounge would cost too much.

“I lease this building,” he said. “To make really expensive changes on a building I don't own would just not be practical.”

At bars across the city yesterday, many patrons continued to question the smoking ban's appropriateness. Many said they could understand banning smoking in restaurants, but argued that liquor and lighting up go hand in hand.

“When I have a few drinks, I smoke,” said George Poling, a patron at Ali's Laskey Lounge in West Toledo.

Geoff Long of Toledo said that while he doesn't smoke, he'd probably follow his friends who do to bars outside the city where they'll be able to indulge in their habit.

“If this were national, or even statewide, it might make sense. But all it's doing is hurting the business owners in Toledo,” said Mr. Long, another Ali's patron.

Karen Granata, chief of air resources for Toledo's Division of Environmental Services, said city officials will not make random inspections to check whether bars and restaurants are following the law. Instead, officials will investigate if residents report that certain places are ignoring the rules.

Toledo City Council is scheduled to vote Sept. 2 on an ordinance that would give city workers in several departments, including health and environment, building inspection, and fire, the power to cite businesses for violating the smoking ban.

To avoid minor misdemeanor charges, businesses will have to make sure their patrons don't light up in forbidden spots.

“We're going to have to hire several new people to enforce this,” Mr. Jakubowski said.

But Shasta Day, a bartender at Ali's, was among several in her profession who predicted trouble enforcing the law.

“It's not going to work - you can't babysit every customer you have,” she said. Some customers will be defiant and light up inside, she and others predicted.

Nick Carr, a bartender at Chameleons on the River, predicted that fights could even break out between patrons over smoking.

“People may get drunk and uncooperative,” agreed Dave Deer, a Chameleons customer from Toledo.

Ms. Granata said several businesses called the city yesterday with questions about details of the smoking ban.

“We've been faxing information to a lot of interested parties,” she said.



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