Aug 272002
Authors: Patrick Crossland

Nick Blair has to deal with many inconveniences that come with being a server: a slow night, a bad tip or a hard day. But Blair, a server at Hibachi Grill, 1051 W. Horsetooth Rd., doesn’t have to deal with secondhand smoke while he works because Hibachi Grill is a non-smoking restaurant.

“There is no smoking at Hibachi and I think it’s a good policy, because families and children shouldn’t have to be exposed to smoke unwillingly,” Blair said. “I don’t smoke by choice, so I don’t want to have to breathe other people’s smoke.”

If lawmakers establish a smoking ban in restaurants, then many consumers and employees may see changes that force smokers outside or even to a different location to smoke.

“I don’t think they should (ban smoking),” said Emma Smith, a freshman engineering major. “I like to smoke in restaurants.”

Fort Collins conducted a survey measuring the opinions of community members concerning laws that could prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars.

According to the City of Fort Collins Statistical Survey on Secondhand Smoke Regulations, 61 percent of survey respondents supported regulations that prohibit smoking entirely in all restaurants. Fifty-six percent supported prohibiting smoking in bars except in designated areas and 57 percent supported prohibiting smoking at outdoor performance areas.

“I think it would be great because I have asthma and smoke clogs my sinuses and gives me the sniffles,” said Nate Weidenkeller, a junior marketing major.

However, not everyone is in favor of a ban on smoking in public areas.

“Bars and restaurants are not public property, they are privately owned businesses,” said David Vargen, a junior studying civil engineering. “They should leave the decision up to the owners themselves. It’s up to them to decide what clientele they cater to.”

If a law were to be implemented, some restaurants might see a decline in business due to the negative impression regulations might leave on smoking patrons.

“We’re outside of city limits, so it won’t bother us,” said Krys Kraft, a server at Denny’s restaurant, 420 Centro Way. “But yeah, we’d lose a lot of business.”

Fort Collins wouldn’t be the first Colorado community to pass a no-smoking regulation in restaurants. Boulder passed a smoke-free restaurant ordinance in 1995. Even with a ban on smoking in restaurants, business in Boulder has grown.

According to the Web site of Americans For Nonsmokers’ Rights, revenues from 1999 were up 4.31 percent in Boulder restaurants.

“I lived in Boulder where they have a no-smoking regulation, and I liked it on a personal level, but I don’t know if I agree with putting a blanket ban on all smokers,” said Christina Alba, a junior studying wildlife biology.

Despite recent polls showing the majority supporting a ban regulating smoking in bars and restaurants, lawmakers are still studying the issue and no decision has been made yet.

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