With Indiana’s new Smoke-free Air law taking affect Sunday, some businesses are concerned that their revenue could reduce to ashes.
The law prohibits smoking in most public establishments, state-owned vehicles and school buses. Although the ban is geared towards promoting health and safety benefits for customers and employees, some business owners view it as a hindrance to their sales progress.
According to the state of Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, “a business that is not exempt from the state law must post required signage, remove indoor ashtrays and other smoking receptacles, and direct any person who is smoking to extinguish the cigarette, or other lighted tobacco.” The laws also goes on to state that customers can only smoke outside at a patio or a sidewalk that is 8-feet away from any public entrance. Any one who breaks this law will be subject to a court-imposed fine.
For local businesses that are not exempt from the law, this ban could drive customers away.
Restaurants are a comfortable place for people who enjoy smoking to relax and eat. Establishments like Pizza King, that allow their customers to smoke inside their facility, view this law as a possible financial setback.
“I don’t like the idea because a lot of our costumers do smoke,” said manager, Patsy Dawson. “If they’re not able to smoke anywhere else, they will probably come in, but we don't know if they’ll stay here as well.”
Dawson also said locals who don't smoke even complained that the new law is a sign of increased government control sabotaging our human rights. Other establishments refused to comment out of frustration.
However, restaurants like Uncle Smiley’s are living proof that permitting smoking can actually cause more harm than good. The owner, Gary Arola, prohibited smoking form the restaurant two years ago, which helped him save money from cleaning damages and buying filters. He anticipates to gain back the customers he lost the two years ago.
We had a lot of complaints from customers,” he said “It didn’t hurt us that bad, but we saved a lot of money on cleaning.”
Director of Crawfordsville Smoke Free, Tim Bristol, agrees that the law can help businesses save a plethora of revenue. For six years, he’s been trying to get this law passed because of the physical and financial damages that derives from public smoking.
The ban, already implemented by many states, took six years to pass in Indiana simply because people resist change. As the public became educated about the dangers of tobacco, the gap between non-smokers and smokers has steadily increased.
Bristol said tobacco is toxic for walls, drapes, blinds, people and clothes. The new law can actually benefit both employers and customers.
“It can save employers $3,600 more on insurance,” he said. “If you smoke, your insurance rates decline. Indiana loses 2,500 people a day from lung cancer and its two times worse for the person standing next to you because there’s no filter for them. No one should be getting cancer from standing next to you.”