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Hotspot owners up in smoke over new law

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Hotspot owners up in smoke over new law | Cigarettes, Taxes, Business, General Assembly

(File photo)
Warren Swann is used to hearing he isn’t old enough to do this or that.

But the 19-year-old college student never thought his age would restrict him from seeing a band perform at The Boro Bar & Grill or Bluesboro.

“It is a college town,” he exclaimed.

Beginning Oct. 1, many of Murfreesboro’s bars will restrict access to persons who are 21 and older as Tennessee’s Non-Smoker Protection Act go into full effect.

The law prohibits smoking in enclosed public places. To be exempt from the law and allow smoking, businesses must restrict access to persons who are 21 or older at all times. Smoking is allowed in open-air patios.

The Tennessee Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development will enforce the new law.

Restaurants like Coconut Bay Café and Toot’s with a bar-like atmosphere will be smoke free. Other hotspots like Wall Street, Bluesboro, Chef Raymond’s and Bunganut Pig will restrict admission to those 21 and older.

Tarboosh hookah lounge and restaurant will be smoke free inside the restaurant but allow smoking on its patio.

“Music going is going to suck for the next couple of years for me,” Swann said.

Local bar owners and managers, largely displeased with the new law, had to make the tough decision to restrict admittance further or ban smoking altogether. Most don’t expect the new law to hurt business since the most profits are generated through alcohol sales.

Boro owner Lee Roberts said it was a numbers game.

After talking to bar regulars and tracking the amount of underage patrons, Roberts decided to make The Boro a 21 and up establishment.

He didn’t want to displease regulars who want to be able to take a seat at the bar, drink a beer and smoke a cigarette for a couple dozen 18- to 20-year-olds who come into the bar from time to time.

Over the last four months, The Boro never saw more than 23 patrons in any given night that were under the age of 21, Roberts said.

“It surprised me how small the under 21 crowd was,” he said.

“An unintended consequence of this (the new law) is that 19- and 20-year-olds will not have the chance to socialize in a bar-type atmosphere,” Roberts added. “They are going to be thrown into an apartment situation with no one monitoring their drinking.”

Under the law underage musicians will not longer be allowed to perform in bars that restrict admittance to persons 21 and up. Over 21 establishments also can't employee anyone under the age of 21.

This law limits the number of places where Swann's band the Screamin' Jacks can perform.

His bandmate Heather Maulder, 20, also doesn't agree with the law.

“It seems kind of silly to me,” she said. “You are losing a lot of your audience.”

Wall Street manager Ed Murdock said he doesn’t agree with the new law.

“I don’t think it is right to dictate what a person can do with his or her business,” he said. “It should be up to the restaurant.”

Wall Street’s owners chose to restrict access to the restaurant because they didn’t want to tell patrons what they could and could not do in the restaurant.

Murdock said prohibiting smoking would hurt business in the bar, but he doesn’t know if restricting admittance would affect sales in the restaurant.
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Members Opinions:
September 30, 2007 at 6:00pm
Not only is this a college town, but a good majority of these college students are from states that not only restrict the admission age to 21 and up... but also comply with no smoking in public places laws... no matter what the age.

Now this doesn't remove business owners' rights to also decide whether they want to set aside a no smoking night and allow admission from 18 up on those nights. Equivalent to teen nights. They will also have opportunity to discover whether those nights will be profitable for themselves or band owners.

September 30, 2007 at 6:00pm
First of all I smoke, I shouldn't but I do. My generation was taught to smoke by the media. I have been to states where smoking was not permitted in ALL establishments, did I stay out of them? NO! I just poped outside, lit up and came back inside when I was done. No big deal. I do feel it inflicts on my rights, but I can tolerate it. In fact on long extended stays in non-smoking states, I came back here and noticed how more pleasant it was to be in a smoke free room. I even changed from asking to be seated in smoking sections to first available seating when making reservations. Smoking is not heathly, we all know it. I plan to stop, just not having much luck at it so far. Maybe this new law will be the straw that breaks the back on my habit. The one thing I noticed in states that don't allow smoking, is that the bars were still full of people, joking, drinking and having fun. Just something to think about I guess.
September 30, 2007 at 6:00pm
The smoking nazis will be out in force making sure that the nanny state is keep in tact.
September 30, 2007 at 6:00pm
I'm a little confused. I don't smoke, but I thought the law says at 18 it's legal to purchase and smoke tobacco products. Why does someone have to be 21 to visit a restaurant where smoking is allowed? Now my 19 year son and I will not be able to visit the restaurant where his old Middle School Band teachers sometimes play. Why can't the decision to be in a smokey atmosphere be up to the 'legal smoking age' person, especially if they are accompanied by a parent?
October 01, 2007 at 6:00pm
The thought that occurred to me was that now these places that allow smoking will have almost 100 percent smoking customers. If you're a non-smoker who's bothered in the least by a few people smoking imagine what it'll be like with almost everyone smoking. Since only 1 in 4 do smoke these businesses are really taking a chance by limiting their customer base in this way. Expect to see some of these places change to non-smoking after awhile.
October 01, 2007 at 6:00pm
ces1948-my husband and I have been thinking about going to Bunganut Pig, since we've heard that customers are more in the post-college age group, so to speak, with some good music as well. According to another web site, they're going 21& up, and as non smokers (I'm an ex), we aren't sure if we'll even go.
October 01, 2007 at 6:00pm
This had to be a tough call for bar owners, whereas in a restaurant you really don't want people taking up your tables smoking and generally sipping free drink refills it's just the opposite in the bar business where you want them to hang around and buy more drinks. The key will be whether the smokers can carry these businesses because I just don't believe the non-smokers will be there.
October 01, 2007 at 6:00pm
Geana-the law states that a bar or restaurant must be 21 & up at ALL times if they want to establish it as a smoking environment. They will never be able to have anyone under 21 in the building, even for a smoke-free night. Just wanted to clarify. I don't agree with it, but it is the law.
October 01, 2007 at 6:00pm
I think people are forgetting that smoking is a privilege and not a necessity. I grew up in a house of two smoking parents. Being dropped of at elementary school smelling like a freight train. Being teased about smelling like smoke as a child was the reason that I never started smoking.
October 01, 2007 at 6:00pm
ces1948, you have a great point that I never thought about. Eventually, all the 21 and up establishments will lose thier non-smokers due to the fact they will not be able to breathe! There will be a purple haze in all these places especially for the first few weeks or so just out of rebellion due to the fact they can't smoke in the otherwise favorite restaurant anymore. And yes, I'm an ex-smoker so I can understand somewhat the other side.
October 01, 2007 at 6:00pm
Janis, I got that... but it also occurred to me that many nightclub establishments in Murfreesboro and Nashville have teen nights whether the drinking age is 21 or not. Mine was just a thought how to continue catering to the 18-20 yr old group. I don't think they should ban the 18-20 year olds from listening to bands.

On a personal level I'm in the same position as Trvlace. Yes, I do smoke -- tough habit to break. Not inside my home and I respect non-smokers. Sure it's not easy to not be able to enjoy a cigarette while having a drink or even after dinner with a cup of coffee. But neither does it kill us not to. I didn't like it when NY banned smoking in public places, anymore than I liked it when they raised the taxes on cigarettes. 6 bucks a pack. I adjusted though. Then I came here to live and ended up readjusting again.

Bars should both ban smoking and admitting those under 21.
October 02, 2007 at 6:00pm
Since I am not a smoker, I don't have a dog in this hunt. But, perhaps, it would be good for all - smokers and non-smokers alike - to remember that smoking is hazardous to ones health.
October 02, 2007 at 6:00pm
Geana, as much as I hate it, I too feel all establishments should not allow smoking. One way or the other, not mixed. Like I say, maybe it will make me stop, and if not it will sure slow me down. Pops another Chantix...gulp! I can't see any sensable owner turning their back on 75% or more of the adult population, that is crazy!
October 02, 2007 at 6:00pm
I too am a long time smoker. I also have leftovers of everything on the market that was supposed to help me quit but didn't work for me. Like Trvlace says, maybe this new law will help me break the habit. I wish every business would go smoke free. I am perfectly able to go in and eat a good meal without a cigarette. I even ban smoking in my own house when family is here because the children hate the smell. As addicted as I am, I try to be considerate of others that don't smoke. Trvlace-good luck with the Chantix. I think I will try that next.
October 02, 2007 at 6:00pm
I stopped smoking for 18 months and gained 40 lbs. Started back and lost 30 lbs. Since the government wants to control smoking and the ILL effects, may I suggest the next tax be a "FAT" tax and all over weight people please pay. The last TAX on smoking bankrupted some people and they had to quit. Now we have the NEW "stop smoking in public" law. I am staying at home (and smoking outside like always), but I have to question where is the NEW revenue going to come from? "Fat TAX" there you have it!
October 03, 2007 at 6:00pm
You know, I put off quitting for years for the very fear of putting on weight. The one thing that I did that helped alot-hanging out in places that didn't allow smoking. Don't worry-when you are truly ready to quit smoking, you'll know it. Empty commitments don't work. One day it'll hit you, and it'll be tough, but when you are truly just sick and tired of it, you'll know.
October 03, 2007 at 6:00pm
etech30-exactly right! You will know when you are really ready to quit. I was afraid of gaining weight too when I quit. I did gain like 5 lbs. and then lost that after about 6 months or so. I replaced cigs with chewing gum. I chewed so much gum that my jaws were beginning to lock! (TMJ) Also, I quit smoking before they banned smoking from malls, grocery stores and such. I can remember thinking that I was relieved I had quit because otherwise I would have been mad. For people out there that don't know it, quitting smoking is about the hardest thing you will ever do! I still crave cigs sometimes and I have been quit now for 15 years! One thing that still keeps me going is the fact that I love using my ashtray in my car for change instead of having nasty ashes all over the place and not always worried if I have to stop and get a carton or pack of cigs before I go home or go to work. Oops, they don't allow smoking at work anymore.
October 03, 2007 at 6:00pm
second hand engine fumes can kill you too. so can driving. yet we drive daily. it's not illegal to smoke. this is america, and if you want to smoke, by all means, smoke. in my younger years, i frequented bars and pool halls and similar establishments. you know what, i still do every now and again. part of the ambiance of those establishments was the smoke filled rooms. if you didn't like it, you didn't go. the current rules weren't broken so why did it need to be 'fixed'? there are non-smoking sections, and so long as ventilation is adequate, who cares. i'm going to die of something some day, somewhere. and this simply isn't one of those things i want to worry about.
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