Anti-smoking ordinance debate continues

By Mitchell Spence

Some are still worried about a potential loss of business from an ordinance that will ban smoking on patios starting Thursday.

Smokers will be required to move 15 feet away from patios in public spaces, which some think will send patrons elsewhere or cause safety issues. Others think the health benefits from the smoking ban outweigh potential negatives.


First Ward Alderman David Jacobson said many local businesses spent large sums of money to accommodate a law that banned smoking in and within 15 feet of restaurants, as they built patios believing people would be able to smoke on them.

Jacobson said the ordinance must be enforced to avoid issues the city had because the law prohibiting smoking near businesses was not enforced, and he thinks the ordinance will hurt businesses.

“They have pushed [the smoking area] 15 feet from the patio, but the enforcement issue still exists,” Jacobson said. “The legislation is anti-business. [Businesses] have spent considerable money to cater to the smokers.”

Cali Walker, general manager at Rosy’s Roadhouse, 930 Pappas Drive, said she is concerned about safety.

“… We have people leaving drinks unattended sometimes to step outside the front door so they can smoke,” Walker said.

Walker said the ordinance may hurt business if only for a short amount of time.

“It hurts business, but the [students] … will still come here,” Walker said.


Mayor John Rey said the health benefits of a smoke-free environment the ordinance would create carried more weight than the counterarguments when he voted in favor of passing the ordinance Aug. 25.

“To me, having a smoke-free environment far outweighs any restriction of the smoking on the patios … it seemed like a straightforward rational,” Rey said. “Patrons that choose to have meals are entitled to a non-smoking environment on the interior and exterior of an establishment.”