A few businesses give smoke-free a try
Following in the footsteps of Salt Lake, Park City will declare Dec. 2 "smoke-free."
Mayor Dana Williams and representatives of the Utah Department of Health’s Tobacco Control and Prevention Program (UTCP) will lead curious participants to seven already smoke-free private clubs and restaurants, and three private clubs who have agreed to go smoke-free from 7 to 9 p.m. Doolan’s Sports Bar and Grill, Cicero’s Night Club and The No Name Saloon.
"[UTCP] approached us about the smoke-free event and we said, sure, we’d do it," Williams said. "We want to try and put out a message on how devastating nicotine addiction can be."
For the second year in a row, Salt Lake businesses have agreed to participate in a smoke-free day April 8, also sponsored by UTCP.
"We had a really positive response from businesses in Salt Lake owners and workers really enjoyed it," UTCP public information manager Lena Dibble said. "We want to raise awareness in the public that there are alternatives." In fact, Salt Lake’s W Lounge decided to ban smoking permanently after participating in the event, she said. Participation in the event is strictly voluntary, however, and several Park City businesses will remain smoker-friendly for the night.
O’Shuck’s Bar & Grill owner Chris Pauldine cites his legal rights as his reason for abstaining from the event. "We’re a private club and we allow smoking," he said.
And while The No Name Saloon owner Jesse Shetler has agreed to participate, he assures "it doesn’t mean we’re headed in the direction of smoke-free at all."
Shetler also owns Butcher’s Chophouse and Grill, which has always been a smoke-free establishment, but has been an advocate for preserving businesses rights to self-determination. He’s participating for a few hours "just to be a part of it," he says. "I’m sure there are going to be customers that don’t like it. I just thought we’d do it for two hours It does not mean I’m leaning towards [banning smoking] at all," he said.
But worldwide support for clearing businesses of smoke has rapidly increased in the past few years, notes Dibble. Entire countries such as Italy, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and New Zealand have banned smoking, she says, and a few weeks ago, the state of Washington passed Initiative 901, becoming the 10th state to require bars and restaurants be smoke-free. "Basically, smoke-free is an international and national trend and we want to raise awareness of the risks and encourage businesses to volunteer to change their business practices," she said. "We really view [smoke-free initiatives] as a workers’ rights issue." Dibble is armed with a long list of statistics that might sway some owners’ opinions. For instance, approximately 79 percent of Utahns who took the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillances System survey would be in favor of going smoke-free statewide. The nation attributed second-hand smoke as the cause of death for 50,000 Americans last year, she says. Since New York decided to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, it has seen dramatic improvements in employees’ heath, Dibble adds. Before the state went smoke free 88 percent of employees reported second-hand smoke symptoms like irritated eyes, exacerbated respiratory disease and sore throats. A year later, only 38 percent reported those symptoms. Doolan’s owner Kevin Doolan says he could be convinced to ban smoking within his establishment, but says he is waiting to see whether the state will vote on The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act (a bill proposed at this year’s legislative session to outlaw smoking in restaurants and private clubs, but tabled due to time constraints). "I’m still thinking about going smoke-free, but I’m going to wait, because last year [the Utah State Legislature] ran out of time I want to see what happens," he explained. Doolan estimates only 40 percent of his customers smoke, and keeps the back room, designated as his establishment’s restaurant half, free of smoke. If he banned smoking, Doolan would still offer his smoking customers a heated outdoor patio, he said. A former owner of a California night club, Doolan experienced the effects of transitioning to smoke-free establishment first-hand, when California decided to pass a law prohibiting smokers from restaurants and bars. What surprised him and other club owners, he told The Park Record earlier this year, was that it actually helped business. He hesitates to go it alone, however. "If everyone went smoke-free, I think businesses would gain customers," Doolan reasons, "but if we all didn’t do it, I think it would hurt business." Park City Council will read the Smoke-Free Day resolution aloud on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 445 Marsac Ave.
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