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.