Smoking Ban Causing Some Business to Go Up in Smoke
YAKIMA, Wa - The American Lung Association says air quality in bars and restaurants has improved with the state's new smoking ban, but what about business. Many local owners expressed concern that the ban could impact sales. Ten months after it went into effect, Bill's Place in Yakima says it's still feeling the ban's burn.
Troy Collett used to be a regular at Bill's Place.
"Every morning after work," he says.
Today is the first time he's been back since the ban went into effect.
"Because I can't smoke inside, I just buy my beer and smoke in my garage," Troy says.
The owner of Bill's Place, Gary McClenaghan says many customers like Troy Collett just stopped coming.
"Smokers are smokers," says McClenaghan, "They're not going to stop smoking. They're just going to switch venues."
Mclenagahn estimates that business is down 10 to 15 percent in the ten months since the ban went into effect.
He says smokers tend to hang out and spend more money on things like food and alcohol. He's also lost gambling revenue to the reservation where smoking is still legal.
"It probably hit the smaller bars the hardest because they rely on a smaller core of people. Percentage-wise, we have more to lose."
In an effort to bring the smoking business back to Bill's Place, McClenaghan built a patio, but when the weather gets cooler, customers like Troy Collet say they'll probably just stay home.
"Gary don't get to share some of my money, some of my fortune," Troy says.