Bars and Restaurants See Positives to Smoking Ban - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Four Years Later Bars and Restaurants See Positives to Smoking Ban

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By Alex Schuman

aschuman@myabc5.com

@alexschuman

November 15th is the Great American Smokeout, a day each year where a big push is made to get people to quit lighting up. 

About 18 percent of Iowa's population smokes, according to the American Cancer Society.  That's down from 22 percent in 2008, which is thanks, in part, to the statewide smoking ban.  
 
When the smoking ban went into effect in July 2008, a few businesses closed while others say the ban actually helped increase customers.

Stephanie Jewett started her stint as a regular at the Greenwood Lounge in Des Moines more than 40 years ago.

"Ohh I was probably 16 with a fake ID," said Jewett, laughing.

For most of those years, she was a smoker and remembers the overwhelming smoke, which stunk up the bar and your clothes.

"Your eyes would get the brunt of it," she said.

Once the ban was put in place she decided standing outside in the cold and the different health problems just weren't worth it. 

She bought an electronic cigarette, which helps her keep the habit without the smoke and it lets her sit inside.

"It's just water vapor.  So it doesn't hurt ya," Jewett said.  "I'd probably still be smoking if you could smoke in bars, actually."

Statistics show Stephanie's story is shared by many smokers.  Overall, restaurants reported little change to their business.

"We lost some of the smokers for a little bit, but then they came back," said Brian Cooney, owner of Cooney's Tavern.

Even though many, including Stephanie, still do not support the law.

"I think it should be up to the bar owner," she said.

Stephanie agrees a smoke-free Greenwood is at least a little better than the cloud of smoke that met her when she first walked in at age 16.

"I really prefer it now," she said.

Business owners said there's smaller benefits to the law too. They don't spend their time cleaning out ashtrays, or worrying about as many fire risks – which lets them focus on customers.

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