The statewide Indiana smoking ban goes into effect in just a few days, but some local businesses are still struggling with how to comply.
Although the ban will prohibit smoking in public facilities such as restaurants, nursing facilities and mental health facilities beginning Sunday, bars, casinos and other private clubs are exempt.
Establishments such as Just-N-Time Bar & Grill, 132 S. Main St., Milford, and Huntington Street Bar & Grill, 704 N. Huntington St., Syracuse, that are already 21 and over and allow smoking will not make any changes in response to the ban.
So, where does that leave restaurants that serve as a bar later in the evening? They have two options: ban smoking or ban children.
While the decision was easy for some restaurants, others still aren’t sure what to do.
Duffy’s Pub & Grub, 717 S. Huntington St., Syracuse, will remain a smoking establishment. A sign on the door reads, “Notice to all customers: Effective July 1, 2012, we will no longer have a family room. You must be 21 years or older to enter our facility.”
Owner Greg Greed said the decision was a financial one, and an easy one at that. “Economically, adults that smoke bring in more money to my facility,” he said. “Banning it would hurt my business.”
The four or five patrons sitting at the bar Tuesday afternoon were all smoking cigarettes, agreeing with what Greed said about the ban.
He also said he believes it should be the owner’s decision on whether smoking should be allowed in a restaurant. “I already have enough government in my life,” Greed said, laughing.
Pie Eyed Petey’s announced Tuesday it would try to give its customers the best of both worlds. The Lake Tippecanoe location will remain a smoking establishment and ban anyone under the age of 21, while the Syracuse location would ban smoking and remain a family restaurant.
The announcement, made on Facebook, attracted more than 75 comments within a few hours. Smokers and non-smokers alike were upset with the decision to allow smoking at Lake Tippecanoe.
Other restaurants believed they would profit more by banning smoking, including The Frog Tavern and Channel Marker in Syracuse and Ye Olde Pub in North Webster.
The Down Under Bar & Grill, 801 N. Huntington St., Syracuse, has been thinking about the ban for many weeks now. Although it currently offers a non-smoking family room, the bar is not enclosed and smoke can drift throughout the basement.
In May, employees distributed a survey to regular customers to get a feel for what the clientele wanted to see as a result of the ban.
“The general outcome was some customers wouldn’t visit as often if they couldn’t bring their kids,” kitchen manager Carlos Hall said.
However, the owners still aren’t sure what they will do. “We won’t know until this weekend,” Hall said. “There will be an employee meeting on Thursday.”
At that meeting, the restaurant will decide which they value more: the bar atmosphere or the family room.
An employee at Jimmy’s Restaurant and Lounge, 407 W. Himes St., North Webster, said they, too, are unsure of what they will do.
Restaurants have until Sunday to decide if they will remain a smoking facility or not, and there is no grace period.
Violating the smoking ban is grounds for fines of up to $1,000 and the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission will be checking for compliance.
For more information about the ban and its restrictions, visit the commission online at www.in.gov/atc.