Business owners still have mixed feelings on smoking ban after five years

BREAK: Frankie Wilkes holds a cigarette while on a break from her job at Schuberg's Bar and Grill. Wilkes has worked there for three years, so she doesn't know what the environment was like in the bar prior to the smoking ban. However, from talking with co-workers, she knows the air is much cleaner now. "I don't think it's a big deal to have to go out here," Wilkes said. "I know I wouldn't want to be around that all day."  (Pioneer photo/Emily Grove-Davis)

BREAK: Frankie Wilkes holds a cigarette while on a break from her job at Schuberg’s Bar and Grill. Wilkes has worked there for three years, so she doesn’t know what the environment was like in the bar prior to the smoking ban. However, from talking with co-workers, she knows the air is much cleaner now. “I don’t think it’s a big deal to have to go out here,” Wilkes said. “I know I wouldn’t want to be around that all day.” (Pioneer photo/Emily Grove-Davis)

MECOSTA COUNTY — Nearly five years after Michigan’s ban on smoking in bars and restaurants took effect, area business owners still have split reactions to its implementation.

Officially titled the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke-Free Air Law, the law aimed to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke and create cleaner air at various establishments serving food and alcohol. The bill was signed into law by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Dec. 18, 2009, and went into effect May 1, 2010.

While business owners were initially vocal about their distain for the ban, citing potential losses in customers and profits, a study released in 2012 by the Michigan Department of Community Health found overall there was not a significant negative effect on aggregate bar and restaurant sales, as well as monthly Keno sales.

However, the study noted that just because the overall trend is not negative, individual businesses or types of businesses could still suffer. Bob McCall, owner of Remus Bowling Center, said he’s felt those losses as a result of the smoking ban.

“Yes, I’m still upset,” said McCall, who has owned the bowling alley for 31 years. “I lost 30 percent of my business in bowlers and it’s cut down on my bar at least 20 percent. The bowling industry was already having troubles anyway and the smoking ban was a big hit.”

However, Schuberg’s Bar and Grill, like many other bars and restaurants didn’t feel as big of a hit in the long-run.

While there was a lot of “griping” at first, the ban hasn’t had much of an impact, said manager Jennifer Rumsey.

“When you talk about it now, you forget what it used to be like when the places were filled with smoke,” Rumsey said. “It’s so natural now to not have smoking. We do see more kids and families in here, so I think that’s a shift and a positive from the ban.”

Other positives could be reflected in health, as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded study released in 2014 found hospitalizations in Michigan for asthma were on the decline following the smoking ban.

The study found that in the 31 months following implementation of the law, Michigan adult asthma hospitalization rates decreased by 8 percent after adjusting for age, sex, race, insurance type and month of year.

“The 8 percent decrease in hospitalizations that we have reported is within the range of other post SFA (smoke free air) law asthma studies,” the study states. “Tobacco smoke is a known asthma trigger, so it is reasonable to find a decrease in asthma hospitalizations when exposure to SHS (secondhand smoke) is restricted.

FRESH AIR: Frankie Wilkes, an employee at Schuberg's Bar and Grill, smokes a cigarette on a break in the smoking structure outside the bar's back door. A few years after the smoking ban in restaurants and bars went into effect, Schuberg's put the structure outside for smokers to have a place to sit and be out of the cold in the winter.

FRESH AIR: Frankie Wilkes, an employee at Schuberg’s Bar and Grill, smokes a cigarette on a break in the smoking structure outside the bar’s back door. A few years after the smoking ban in restaurants and bars went into effect, Schuberg’s put the structure outside for smokers to have a place to sit and be out of the cold in the winter.

The area behind Schuberg’s has pretty much always been an area to smoke, but a few years after the ban a smoking structure was set up outside to keep smokers out of the cold winter weather, Rumsey said. Nobody complains anymore, having adjusted to the change and needing to go outside.

While McCall said he knows non-smoking customers are happy with the law, he wishes it was done in a different way. He still holds out hope for an amendment someday.

“If things changed, I would never allow bowlers to sit at table and smoke because I know my help is happier about not having to dump ashtrays and non-smokers like the clean air,” he said. “I would like to be able to have a designated area inside that’s well ventilated. That’s how it could have been done.”

In his free time, McCall said he doesn’t go to bars anymore, instead going to casinos, where smoking inside is still legal.

But Ramsey, who is a smoker herself, is glad the ban is in place.

“I couldn’t even imagine now if someone smoked inside,” she said. “I’m happy it happened and I’m a smoker, but I wouldn’t want to work in it all day.”

avatar

Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

One comment on “Business owners still have mixed feelings on smoking ban after five years

  1. avatarRCSportsfan

    I quit smoking over 20 years ago and I am glad I did. For one thing, I can’t imagine spending $70.00 a week for a carton of smokes. That is like taking $250.00 in cash and throwing it in the wood burner every month. Nobody would do that, but that is exactly what smokers are doing. Keep puffing away smokers and someday you will be dragging an oxygen tank along behind you and stopping every 75 or 80 feet to rest.

Leave a Reply