The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local Business

June 13, 2012

Business owners prepare for new smoking regulations

State officials explain different regulations for sites

ANDERSON, Ind. — The new statewide smoking regulations, which go into effect July 1, will mean big changes for many local businesses, but Anita Gaillard, director of community programs for the state of Indiana, said there’s nothing to fear.

“This is no gloom and doom, y’all. This is a public health issue,” she said.

Gaillard was one of three panelists during a forum held Tuesday night at The Bridge that was designed to inform business owners about the new regulations. About 40 people were in attendance, many of whom were business owners or representatives.

According to State Excise Police Officer Melissa Krieg, there are different regulations depending on the type of establishment.

For bars, businesses will have to decide whether to be completely smoke-free or make all areas of the bar open to smoking. They must also prominently display two signs within the bar that state it’s a nonsmoking or smoking environment.

Hotels and bars, which have family separation areas, must now be smoke-free. The bar at a southside hotel on Scatterfield Road will be required to be nonsmoking since it is attached to the hotel.

Social clubs, Krieg said, have some gray areas. According to the regulations, clubs can designate a room for smoking as long as it is approved by the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, and children do not have access.

All businesses that are open to the public and are not exempt from the smoking regulations must display signs stating it is a nonsmoking facility, and that no smoking is allowed within 8 feet of public entrances.

Several people had questions about how the new regulations would be enforced. Krieg explained that both patrons and business owners can be cited for violations.

“If you’re a business owner, then you’re responsible for your location,” Krieg said.

Gaillard said Indiana will join 39 other states that have passed similar smoking regulations, including neighboring Illinois, which enacted a smoking ban in 2008.

“The sky did not fall in Illinois, and won’t fall in for Anderson,” Gaillard said.

Kathy Cooper, owner of Cooper’s Sport Bowl, however, wasn’t so sure. As part of the new regulations, patrons will no longer be able to smoke in the bowling alley’s bar. She said she’s talked with bowling alley owners in other states, which enacted bans, and most of them said they lost business as a result.

The alley has been smoke-free on weekends for years, but Cooper worries how the ban will affect weekday bowling leagues.

“If there’s one person on a team who quits because they can’t smoke, then the whole team is probably going to quit,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the smoking ban in Muncie had a negative impact on business. She is hopeful that since the ban is now statewide, that she won’t be singled out and therefore won’t lose business.

“You have to stay positive. We’ve been in business 55 years, not going to let something like this stop us,” she said.

For Joe Settlemire, owner of Scampy’s, the new regulations will mean a change in identity. The family bar and grill can either appeal to its family crowd by becoming a nonsmoking location, or to its bar crowd by allowing smoking.

It’s a tough decision, Settlemire said, but due to the number of families that frequent his business he is pulling toward nonsmoking.

Either way, he said he believes he’ll lose customers. Considering Hoosier Park Casino, and other businesses will be exempt from the new regulations, Settlemire said he wants an even playing field.

“I would like to see it nonsmoking for everyone,” Settlemire said.

Find Sam Brattain on Facebook and @SamBrattain on Twitter, or call 640-4883.

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