Alderman has eye on smoking ban

By Rocio Lopez

New York has one, so does California, and Chicago may approve a smoking ban inside most public places.

In DeKalb, Second Ward Alderman, Kris Povlsen supports the idea to implement a similar city ordinance in the area.

“I think a ban is what we need,” Povlsen said. “First of all it’s a public health issue and statistics show that people die of second hand smoking.”

Povlsen, who works at the Ben Gordon Center, which treats patients with alcohol and drug related problems, got involved with a group called the DeKalb Smoke-Free Coalition.

“Our goal is to educate the public of the dangers of second-hand smoking and encourage the city council to approve a ban,” he said.

Povlsen is currently reviewing survey data from local residents and began collecting signatures through a petition. The survey did not target business owners.

Povlsen hopes to present the findings to the Environmental Commission and the DeKalb City Council in order to formulate an ordinance to ban smoking in public places.

Nick Tsiftilis, owner of Starbusters Bar and Grill, 930 Pappas Drive, thinks a ban will have a negative effect on business because customers will go to other cities where there is no smoking ban.

“I’m worried about my fellow tavern owners,” Tsiftilis said. “Bars should be able to allow people to smoke.”

Junior marketing major, Tim Walz does not think the ban is necessary. “I’d rather be able to smoke in the bar,” Walz said. “I think it’s fine if you keep [a smoking section] separated.”

Povlsen thinks the fears of business owners are based on emotion and not facts.

Self-regulation by businesses are not always in the best interest of public health, Povlsen said.

“Smoking sections are a joke,” he said. “The problems don’t only affect the patrons but also employees.”

According to the American Cancer Society, second-hand smoking is classified as a potential cancer-causing agent by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which regulates health and safety conditions in the workplace.

Greg Bahramis, executive host at The Junction Eating Place, 816 W. Lincoln Highway, would support a ban if it applied to every restaurant.

“If all the restaurants do it, there is not going to be any changes,” Bahramis said.

George Bahramis, evening supervisor at the Junction prefers a county ordinance over a city ordinance, because patrons are less likely to travel to adjacent cities to smoke.

The Junction has tried limiting smoking during peak hours.

“Some people take this stuff personally,” George Bahramis said. “Some of your citizens that have been here a long time, they’ll say you’re taking my right away from me.”

George Bahramis thinks the ban will affect cigarette sales at bars.

Tsiftilis believes business owners should be able to decide whether they will allow smoking or not.

“It’s one less freedom that [customers] can’t have a cigarette,” he said, “it’s one more restriction on heavily restricted business.”