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Clayton greets smoking ban with relief and resignation

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 1, 2010 - With Clayton's smoking ban begining today, smoke and mixed feelings filled the air in many of the municipality's bars and restaurants Wednesday night. 

While many restaurant customers and employees support the ban that prohibits smoking in Clayton restaurants, several oppose it, saying the ban infringes on their individual rights.

"It's seems very unfair for the government to say what people can and cannot do," said Joey Danis, a John P. Fields customer who does not smoke. "To me, it's very unconstitutional. I'm not a smoker, but I believe in what's free."

In addition to imposing on his personal liberties, Danis predicts that the ban, passed last year by the City Council, will hurt business at Clayton's bars and restaurants.


Smoke out

* Smoking bans are already in effect in Arnold, Ballwin, Kirkwood and Illinois;* Smoking in Clayton is now banned in all enclosed public places, except outdoor patios, private clubs, cigar bars and tobacco shops;

* Smoking bans are scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 1 in Lake St. Louis and Jan. 1 in St. Louis and St. Louis County


But others are not so sure. Barrister's general manager Myra Lynch believes her restaurant may actually see an increase in revenue.

"It's touch and go, but I think it will pick up our dining here," Lynch said. "People will still eat here and just smoke in the streets or on our patio."

Kirkwood officials have told other media that restaurant receipts there have not dipped since Kirkwood's ban went into effect Jan. 1. 

Kilkenny's bartender Kyle Grinstead was not as optimistic. He fears a dip in his employer's sales, thanks to the ban.

"People will choose other places. It's going to hurt our business," he said. "More people are going to go downtown than Clayton because of the ban. Money-wise, it's going to hurt"

Although weary of potential hardships, Grinstead sees a light at the end of the smokeless tunnel. He believes both the smoking bans in St. Louis County and St. Louis, which come into effect in January, will restore any loss his bar sees.

"Everyone will be on an even playing field then," Grinstead said.

Even with the threat of losing business, Grinstead looks forward to the smoking ban.

"I'll enjoy working more," he said. "I won't smell smoke all the time and my clothes won't smell when I go home."

Chris Scott, a customer at John P. Fields, says the ban will not only affect business, but also drive smokers out of bars and for good. He says that smoking and drinking are quintessential activities for bars and without the two, many smokers will abandon the establishments.

"If they don't have smoking, it's like they've taken a tire off my car," Scott said. "I don't have a reason to drive it now."

Scott went on to say that the ban will do very little to eradicate smoking.

"They had Prohibition for a time and people still found ways to drink," he said. "People work out a way, that's what human beings do. If you're hungry, you find a way to eat."

Patrick Sullivan, a student at the University of Kentucky, is an intern at the Beacon. 

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