Bills Pending to Allow Smoking on Restaurant Patios

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

David Ghannam owns the Irish Pub and Grill, but he doesn't know how much longer he'll be in business.

"You can only suffer losses so long," he said.

On top of rising food prices and a poor economy -- he's battling the smoking ban.

"They might have one beer and then leave because they dont like having to get up, go outside, smoke, come back in, go outside," he said. "My customers cannot even go outside on the patio and have a cigarette because its connected to building, even though it's open air."

New legislation aims to change that. The house and senate are seeing bills that allow smoking on patios or in a designated room. That's okay with former smoker Bill Robbins as long as there's some separation.

"Not intermingled because I know some people it really makes them sick," he said.

Since the smoking ban took effect people are less likely to sit down and play Keno. In fact sales are down 15 percent, meaning about $17 million less for Michigan schools and less profit for business owners.

Ghannam says he's lost $275,000 in Keno profits alone.

"The people that would stop in here and have a beer or two, play Keno, sit at the bar talk with their friends, they stopped going out," he said.

"We stay home and drink, eat," said Scott McQueen, a smoker. "A lot of restaurants we don't go to just because of the ban."

That's pretty common, according to the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.

"A lot of businesses that do have a lot of smoking clientele, their numbers have dropped significantly, some even up to to 40 percent," said Lance Binoniemi.

That's the price, some would argue, for smoke-free air.


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