Smoking ban hot topic of conversation

Smoking ban hot topic of conversation

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign City Council vote was a close one – 5 to 4 council members in favor of the smoking ban – so perhaps it is no surprise reaction to the ban was also mixed.

When bartender Eileen Ford arrived at the Brass Rail on Wednesday morning, the smoking ban was already a hot topic of conversation.

"Smoking is a big issue in this bar. A lot of people smoke here," she said. "I can understand banning smoking in restaurants, but a bar is a totally different place."

Before catching a bus to Danville on Wednesday, Lincoln resident Terry James dropped by the Brass Rail to have a Budweiser and a smoke or two.

He sure is glad a smoking ban hasn't come to his hometown.

"There are smoking and nonsmoking areas in restaurants; why can't there be different areas in bars, too? There's all this talk about the nonsmokers having rights, what about the smokers' rights?" he asked.

It was a different story over at Pickles, a Champaign restaurant that banned smoking a few months ago.

Once New York passed a statewide smoking ban, Bob Kelly of Danville expected a similar ban eventually would be proposed in East Central Illinois.

"My thing is eating dinner. I don't like it when we're eating and there's smoke around," he said. Ultimately, though, the ban will not have any effect on him and it won't change whether or not he goes out more or less, Kelly said.

Since Pickles banned smoking, business has been steady, manager Bob Coit said.

Like Kelly, Shirley Morfrey of Champaign also said the ban won't change any of her habits. She was pleased to hear the city council approved the ban.

"I'm not a smoker, and I don't want to smoke. I don't like smoke," Morfrey said.

Smoker Khaled Nafea doesn't go to bars so the ban will not have any real impact on him, he said, but the idea bothers him.

"I didn't imagine that it would go through. It is frustrating that some people are trying to impose this. I can understand it happening in big crowded cities like New York or Chicago, but not here in Champaign-Urbana," he said.

Back at the Brass Rail, Champaign resident Keith Yamamoto doesn't smoke, but many of his friends do. And he likes to drink with his friends.

"If people I know who smoke decide to go outside of town (to drink), I'd probably go with them," he said.

But that puts him in a tight spot. He prefers to hang out in certain bars.

"I don't want to hurt a bar I go to," he said.

Albert "Abby" Harshbarger also doesn't smoke, but he likes to go to bars to drink and listen to live music.

"I know the next day I'll have the secondary cough and my clothes will smell. It comes with the territory. My wife usually knows where I've been based on the smell," he said.

"Now my wife won't know where I've been," he laughed.