Smokers, bar owners say smoking ban has caused ups and downs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Smokers, bar owners say smoking ban has caused ups and downs

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Since July 1st, buckets of sand outside have replaced ashtrays on tables inside bars and pubs. But Danny Lake, General Manager at the Vine Tavern and Eatery, hasn't heard any complaints in those six months.

"Everybody just gets up and goes outside, has their cigarette, and then comes back in."

He says customers now give out compliments on the improved air quality, and the only real problem the ban has caused is all the extra cigarette butts on the front step.

"We have had to clean up outside a lot more," said Lake.

Even smokers like Roxanne Tang agree. "Even though I am a smoker, I enjoy going into a smoke-free bar." She says the biggest problem the ban has caused for her and fellow smokers is the requirement of stepping outside in the winter.

Jill Moore was outside IC Ugly's Saloon. "It's pretty cold," she told us. 

Some businesses, however, are feeling a slight burn. Susan Spalj's business dropped about 10 percent since July, mostly at her IC Ugly's and Club Car saloons.

"The smoking ban has affected my business more than I thought it would," said Spalj.

 She says touchscreen poker players haven't been staying in their chairs as long as they used to.

"Instead of playing the game, what they do is go outside for a smoke, and maybe run into other people and start up a conversation. They may be out there five minutes to thirty minutes, so that's thirty minutes less that they're playing games and drinking."

Overall, she says the negatives have been outweighed by positives, like less time spent on cleaning and wiping the walls down. "I have several smoke-eating machines that have costly chemicals and filters. So, I don't have to pay for those things anymore."

She's also seen more families coming to eat at her third property, Shakespeare's.

Iowa City and Cedar Rapids police say they've had minimal or no problems with bars failing to comply with the ban.

Changes are coming later this week to the ban.  The Iowa Board of Health made ammendments in November, updating exactly where people can and can not smoke, and also making it easier for people to anonymously report violations.  Those changes take effect Wednesday, January 7.  Click here to view the changes.

Online Reporter: Brady Smith
Online Producer: Mike Verlo

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