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Some Augusta bars don't fear proposed smoking ban

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At Helga’s Pub and Grille on Central Avenue, cigarette smoke generally wafts in the air and the smell of stale smoke fills the carpet. Owner Dave Greenfield said two regular lunchtime customers leave their suit coats and ties in the car to prevent their clothes from soaking up the smell.

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Cory Harrison smokes a cigarette at Stillwater Tap Room in downtown Augusta. A proposed ordinance in Augusta would ban smoking in all public places, including bars.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Cory Harrison smokes a cigarette at Stillwater Tap Room in downtown Augusta. A proposed ordinance in Augusta would ban smoking in all public places, including bars.

The regular clientele at Helga’s, however, smokes far less frequently than just a few years ago.

“I’ve noticed people over the years are smoking less and less,” said Greenfield, a former smoker.

For the first time in the bar’s history, none of its bartenders smoke. Individuals should have the right to smoke or not smoke, he said, but a smoke-free establishment could protect his employees who often complain about second-hand smoke.

That’s one reason Green­field and other restaurant and bar employees aren’t fearful a proposed Augusta city ordinance to ban smoking in public places, including bars, could cost them significant business.

Health benefits from a smoke-free environment have many ready to make the change and willing to take a short-term profit loss. The proposed ordinance had two public hearings and could again be taken up by the Augusta Commission’s public service committee Monday.

Whether or not the ordinance passes, Helga’s could be smoke-free by the year’s end. Profits from a busy holiday season could make up for the initial business loss that Greenfield predicts will level out with time. It’s possible that even more customers could frequent the pub if they don’t have to be bothered by a smoke-filled environment, he said.

Another local business owner, Mark Coleman, the general manager of Carolina Ale House on Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway, doesn’t expect the proposed ordinance to change his business. In 22 years working in the restaurant industry, he’s seen restaurants in other states carry on with a steady clientele after ordinances that prohibited or limited smoking.

“I think it’s great. It doesn’t make a difference. If everyone else has to do the same thing then it’s a non-issue,” Coleman said.

Except for a small percentage of restaurant diners that Coleman described as “die hard smokers,” people continue to eat out after legislation that banned smoking in restaurants.

“The guests know it’s not our choice. The county decides,” he said. “It’s a public place. It’s just like going into a government building. You used to be able to smoke in them. Now, you can’t.”

Sally Keiser tends bar at Stillwater Tap Room in downtown Augusta, and she hopes the ordinance passes for her own health and the health of her customers.

“People say, I have a right to smoke, but I have a right to be smoke free, too,” she said.

Keiser quit smoking only six months ago and said it was miserable to come into work each day and have to smell cigarette smoke and clean out ashtrays.

“I have no choice to be around it,” she said. “It’s disgusting.”

The smoking ban might upset a few customers, but Keiser said she thinks it will bring more people out to bars that don’t come because of the smoky air.

“I think a lot more people might come out,” she said. “In the long run, I think it helps everybody.”

Staff writer Gracie Shepherd contributed to this story.

SMOKING LAWS

Smoking laws vary by city and county. Augusta is considering an ordinance that would ban smoking in all public places, including bars and private clubs, and outdoor work areas such as construction sites. Here’s a look at where smoking is allowed across the area:

COLUMBIA COUNTY

  • Private residences (except when used as a licensed child care, adult day care, barbershop, beauty shop, personal care home or other health care facility)
  • Hotel and motel rooms designated for smoking guests
  • Retail tobacco shops
  • Outdoor areas of employment
  • Outdoor dining areas with at least three open sides
  • Posts or organizations for current or former members of the military
  • Private clubs not open to the general public

AIKEN COUNTY

  • Private residences (except when used as a licensed child care, adult day care, barbershop, beauty shop, personal care home or other health care facility)
  • Hotel and motel rooms designated for smoking guests
  • Retail tobacco shops
  • Outdoor areas of employment
  • Outdoor dining areas with at least three open sides
  • Bars and restaurants that neither employ nor serve any persons under the age of 18
  • Bars and restaurants with enclosed private rooms that have an air handling system independent from the main air handling system and all air within the private room is exhausted directly outside
  • Posts or organizations for current or former members of the military
  • Private clubs not open to the general public

CITY OF NORTH AUGUSTA

  • Private residences (except when used as a licensed child care, adult day care or health care facility)
  • Hotel and motel rooms designated for smoking guests
  • Retail tobacco shops
  • Outdoor areas of employment except within 10 feet of entry to an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited
  • Private clubs not open to the general public
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Riverman1
90278
Points
Riverman1 10/23/11 - 11:58 am
0
0
Harley52 said, "Riverman, I

Harley52 said, "Riverman, I counted seven "I"s in your answer to GaStang22. With all due respect, that sounds like an awful lot of "I"s.

I like "wild people" too and I understand the desire to hang out with them occasionally."

Haha, Harley, that was kind of a stream of consciousness, tongue-in-cheek post. You were right to note it was a little weird. I actually don't drink anymore.

But I seriously don't believe someone should be able to put something in the air we breathe that's harmful. Smoking is like some giant smokestack putting enough bad stuff in the air to harm people on a smaller scale. Now don't even get me started about the severe harm smokers do to themselves.

Ice Man
0
Points
Ice Man 10/23/11 - 11:58 am
0
0
I enjoy a cheeseburger in

I enjoy a cheeseburger in paradise every so often with an ice cold beer and can't stand the raunchy smell of cigarette smoke and its effects on my clothing, skin and hair. The policy seems to be working quite well in other areas of the country.

Riverman1
90278
Points
Riverman1 10/23/11 - 11:59 am
0
0
The bottom line is as with

The bottom line is as with every other area of the country it's going to happen here. It won't hurt business and smokers will adapt.

seenitB4
93466
Points
seenitB4 10/23/11 - 12:08 pm
0
0
I have seen smoking

I have seen smoking harm....up close with my best friend...bans didn't stop her from smoking...if anything she only smoked more...she died with lung cancer...bladder cancer......but we can't regulate EVERYTHING!!

River---Should we put diapers on those dang cows for emitting that gas...dang stuff stinks----& so much of it------old people are guilty of letting it go too....& some just don't care who is around when they do!!!

harley_52
24996
Points
harley_52 10/23/11 - 12:10 pm
0
0
Riverman1 said "But I

Riverman1 said "But I seriously don't believe someone should be able to put something in the air we breathe that's harmful. Smoking is like some giant smokestack putting enough bad stuff in the air to harm people on a smaller scale. Now don't even get me started about the severe harm smokers do to themselves."

Well that's another issue, isn't it? Banning smoking altogether because it harms everybody, including the smoker.

Doesn't that apply to lots of other products/behaviors as well?

I can't think of any health benefits to fireworks. Few, if any, for drinking alcohol. Certainly none for bungee jumping. Heck, I think it's probably hazardous to society to broadcast NFL games to a bunch of fat, beer swilling, sedentary, middle aged men on the brink of heart attacks and strokes.

I completely understand the desire to stay away from smoke, what I don't get is your (of all people) choosing to side with those who think the solution is to pass a law destructive of someone's property rights and potentially ruining his business, outlawing a legal activity that you could avoid if you chose to avoid it.

Is this the REAL Riverman1? :)

seenitB4
93466
Points
seenitB4 10/23/11 - 12:12 pm
0
0
I'm for bans in working

I'm for bans in working places ---most restaurants ---BUT bars that want it & their customers want it//they should be allowed to have smoking---DON'T go inside that bar....so far we don't have guns FORCING someone to enter a bar....dowe>??

harley_52
24996
Points
harley_52 10/23/11 - 12:15 pm
0
0
Riverman1 said "The bottom

Riverman1 said "The bottom line is as with every other area of the country it's going to happen here. It won't hurt business and smokers will adapt."

I'm very sad to say you're probably right, my friend.

And some of us will shed a tear as others celebrate the further erosion of personal freedoms that we used to hold so dear and fought so hard to preserve.

harley_52
24996
Points
harley_52 10/23/11 - 12:31 pm
0
0
And one more thing,

And one more thing, Riverman1...

When we agree that "The bottom line is as with every other area of the country it's going to happen here" what are we agreeing to? Why has it happened in other areas? And why will it probably happen here too?

I submit it's the triumph of Political Correctness over logic. Emotionalism defeats common sense. Agenda wins over principle.

I think it's sad.

seenitB4
93466
Points
seenitB4 10/23/11 - 12:37 pm
0
0
I'm afraid this is the same

I'm afraid this is the same way the gun ban will be installed...a little law here & a little one there & the next thing we know... all guns are banned...think it can't happen..wow---thinkagain---they will say how bad guns are...look at the deaths....some might say...well it works in other places we will just have to adapt...chip away...chipaway...BOOM..freedom is gone forever....
Some bans will never work....usually the bans that restrict what we put in our bodies..be that drink-eat-smoke-or sexual related....they have tried for YEARS...it didn't work. How long have we had prostitution?

Riverman1
90278
Points
Riverman1 10/23/11 - 12:41 pm
0
0
Harley, I'm serious about the

Harley, I'm serious about the dangers of smoking and second hand smoke. It's researched ad nausea that it's extremely harmful. We had a retired Army officer on these boards who was a big smoker who developed emphysema and died. With coronary artery disease, those affected are invariable smokers. If anyone you know smokes, get them to quit. Please. Some things transcend.

harley_52
24996
Points
harley_52 10/23/11 - 12:45 pm
0
0
seenitB4 said "I'm afraid

seenitB4 said "I'm afraid this is the same way the gun ban will be installed...a little law here & a little one there & the next thing we know... all guns are banned...think it can't happen..wow---thinkagain---they will say how bad guns are...look at the deaths....some might say...well it works in other places we will just have to adapt...chip away...chipaway...BOOM..freedom is gone forever...."

Exactly.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 10/23/11 - 01:14 pm
0
0
Riverman, while your smart
Unpublished

Riverman, while your smart answer is "cute" I really expected more logic from someone I have grown to respect very much and think is one of the most intelligent people one this board. And while I always LOVE your sarcasm, when you can give a real answer to whats the difference other than selfishness..... I'm listening. lol

Riverman1
90278
Points
Riverman1 10/23/11 - 01:21 pm
0
0
GaStang22, I gave an indepth

GaStang22, I gave an indepth answer that got hung up in the queueing gizmo for some reason when I tried to answer Harley. There was a guy on these boards, a retired Army colonel whom I got to know. He died of emphysema from smoking. Many others knew him, also. So I encourage all my friends on here who smoke to quit. Research into coronary artery disease that causes heart attacks shows about 90 percent use tobacco. Realize the effect of the smoke on others. So, please...for me?

georgiarebel85
0
Points
georgiarebel85 10/23/11 - 01:37 pm
0
0
Those who are bitching about

Those who are bitching about the proposal need to face the fact that the health of customers is more important than their privilege of smoking indoors. The proposal is a good idea because the non-smokers won't have to go home smelling like a chimney, they don't get second-hand smoke, and also, they would be able to spend more time inside with their friends instead of outside because their eyes are getting watery and red due to the smoke. This proposal will not only help to accommodate all customers but it will bring in more people and help with businesses. I live in CA where its illegal to smoke in public places and its been a success for businesses. Also, when I come to visit family and friends, I shouldn't have to have to spend my entire vacation at home or inside the hotel just to avoid second-hand smoke. I should be allowed to stay inside the restaurant, bar, club, or whatever public place they want to go to instead of going outside every 2 minutes because my eyes keep watering and making everyone ask me if I'm OK because it looks like I have been crying. I want to be able to say "Hey I had a great time tonight. Lets do it again soon." I also want to be able to go home without smelling like smoke and having to wash my clothes, hair, and skin 6 times just to get rid of the smell and toxins. Also I don't want to hear the complaint that "we are adults and they are taking our rights away." because that is totally and completely BS. Smoking in public is not a right. It is a privilege. The health hazards of smoking, not only for the smoker, but for the individuals in their vicinity are well documented, and when you complain that your "rights" are being taken away, you are saying that my right to breathe clean air (yes, it's a right and not a privilege) is less important than your privilege of smoking and contaminating the air around you. Since smoking is a choice, and breathing is not, it should be perfectly clear that an outdoor smoking area makes more sense than an outdoor breathing area.

Rebeccar
0
Points
Rebeccar 10/23/11 - 01:50 pm
0
0
If some bars don't mind

If some bars don't mind smoking bans, then they should go smoke free on their own. I am from Ohio which has a disastrous 4 year ban. According to the Dept. of Health report, 40% of smokers and 20% of nonsmokers are going out to restaurants and bars LESS due to the ban. In the first year of Ohio's ban 316 bars closed!

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 10/23/11 - 01:56 pm
0
0
Riverman I totally agree with
Unpublished

Riverman I totally agree with that. 100% I smoke, I hate it and am trying to quit, regret I ever started. Its one of the worst things you can do. Have my ecigs right here, but even that will be banned, so to me they really do not care about health, just tyranny. lol But, before I started smoking I went to places that had smoking, didn't like it, still wont eat with ashtrays or smoking around, its disgusting. My parents smoke, do I never see them or hug them again if they dont quit when I do? Do you or Brad ban your family or friends that do?

But when I go to my favorite pool hall, I don't mind because thats the atmosphere of that place and thats what the owner chooses. I has many other options if I choose not be around smoke. Just like when I do finally quit, until the urge is 100% gone, I wont go to my favorite pool hall. Simple as that. I wont be demanding the owner to cater to me no more than I will demand he change the music on the jukebox or serve a different brand of food or beer. Nor will I advocate to ban others from smoking in their own personal car because at a red light I may get a whiff for 60 seconds, I'll just roll my window up. The whole point is, these places are not necessities in life and its not like there are no other options of similar places to patronize. Why can't their be a designated place an owner chooses to open that caters to smokers as long as only Adults who can make their own decisions are allowed? Why is that compromise sooooo bad? If one is die hard against drinking, you don't patronize and support a place that condones it, you either go and suck it up, or choose somewhere else, no different than if you do not like the food, music, servers, looks etc.... of any place. You don't like whats offered don't go there. The ratio of smoking establishments to non smoking is little to thousands. Is this really worth putting so much time effort and money into to step on the rights of others to choose to poison themselves or owners to choose to let people do something legal in their place they used their own sweat and money to create their version of the American Dream?

You even see some of these owners like Greenfield in the article saying he cares so much about the health of his employees and customers, but yet will not on his own ban smoking. Why? Money is more important than others health, and he knows if he does it it may cost him money, but not as much if the government makes him do it. Hypocrites most of these people are. Just like that grown woman who knew the dangers of second hand smoke chose to work in a smoking bar because even though there are only a handful of smoking establishments, there wasn't one other job anywhere int he CSRA she could get. Bull, the money was better there. And drinkers who can smoke usually stay longer, spend more and tip more. It was worth it then. Now she wants to whine when she was already completely aware of the danger she put her own self into and wants to ban it for everyone rather using common sense to not work there. Hypocrites, all these advocates. Just like the gambling ban, they are protecting addicts and their families by nto allowing it, yet as long as they can make money off of it int he form of hiding behind the education cause, people can blow all their rent and food money gambling.

The real problem here the government isn't making money off of the smoking establishments for that luxury, but are probably getting a bunch from the advocated pushing this ban. The rest are just citizens who want to trample on others rights for their own personal preference, rather than choosing another place to patronize. Banning all fast food and all sweets from responsible people who enjoy it because some people with bending elbow disease can't control themselves from being 400lbs?

The point is it is not illegal, and there should be dedicated places where owners can choose to let this happen in their bar. I hate drunk drivers, one almost ruined my life, why can't we ban alcohol in anywhere but in your own home????? It too affects others and kills thousands and thousands. People have to have some free will and use common sense to make their own choices.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 10/23/11 - 02:11 pm
0
0
Riverman you are 100%
Unpublished

Riverman you are 100% correct. But why can we not have the compromise in place now. There are only a few establishments that allow smoking compared to the many who do not. Why not just let owners and citizens use their free will to pick how they want to run their business or where they want to patronize. No different in not going to a place because you do not like the food, atmosphere, music, servers... etc.... As far as working, you choose where you want to work and may refuse some jobs if the job or its surroundings are not to your liking or the money isn't enough, it is your choice.

Smoking is legal, and so is alcohol. A drunk driver leaving a bar almost ruined my families life, we still have not recovered completely 6 years later and do not know how long it will take. A friend was seriously hurt in a bar in an unprovoked attack by a drunk who had remorse later, but doesn't change the pain he is going through. So drinking does also hurt innocent people, why is it not banned in public and limited to ones own personal home??? We have to give people some amount of free will. This isn't the USSA though it is hard to tell anymore. What's next, we ban all fast food and sweets from responsible eaters and parents because some with bending elbow disease can't control themselves or some parents are to lazy to cook?

No difference in either of my examples with alcohol or personal preference of the place you choose to patronize/work at. Can you really disagree, honestly?

anono
0
Points
anono 10/23/11 - 08:26 pm
0
0
I. I have NEVER read a news

I. I have NEVER read a news story that was so biased.
2. Thank you for listing the businesses who choose to be non smoking but refuse to do that unless the government tells them to. This certainly says something for the "bans are good for business" propaganda.
3. If Helga's wants to be smoke free then go smoke free. (I am not familiar with stale tobacco smelly carpet. IS that another scientific statement? Did someone spill beer on it?)
4. Restaurants do not close because of smoking bans- BARS DO. So, Mark Coleman, WHY are you waiting for the government to force you to go non smoking? You say it would be great for business.
5. Sally Keiser. Get a different job. SURELY you are smart enough to get a job from Mark COleman?
6. Bars do not recover from smoking bans. They close.
7. Did the lobbyists for pro ban write this article?

KSL
139630
Points
KSL 10/23/11 - 08:43 pm
0
0
anono, I am a real estate

anono, I am a real estate agent, and believe this, agents and clients who are non smokers can easily detect the smoke smell in houses even when the smokers have been long gone. It even gets into the paint on the walls. I grew up around 2 smokers who both finally quit. But when I got away from it when i went off to college and married another non-smoker, I guarantee we started to be able to detect the smell easily. I have to assume you are a smoker and I, for one, don't want to deny you the right to do so. But let it be in a smoking allowed place and allow people to choose not to go to one. Don't force all establishments to comply with your addiction.

anono
0
Points
anono 10/23/11 - 08:57 pm
0
0
I just called Helga's. The

I just called Helga's. The manager (9:35 PM) stated that Helga's supports each business having the right to decide whether to allow smoking or not. I told him he had better call this paper in the morning and find out why their business was misrepresented in this article.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 10/23/11 - 09:41 pm
0
0
Sally Keiser tends bar at
Unpublished

Sally Keiser tends bar at Stillwater Tap Room in downtown Augusta, and she hopes the ordinance passes for her own health and the health of her customers.
“People say, I have a right to smoke, but I have a right to be smoke free, too,” she said.
Keiser quit smoking only six months ago and said it was miserable to come into work each day and have to smell cigarette smoke and clean out ashtrays.
“I have no choice to be around it,” she said. “It’s disgusting.”

No Choice my foot, thats not the only job in town. When you were a smoker you loved it, now since you quit you want to force everyone else to do the same. There are plenty of other jobs out there why not get one? The reason is exactly the same of why you should find another job in a non smoking establishment!!! What about the people who purposely got their jobs there so they could smoke?? Goes both ways, just selfish, you want everyone to conform to you but not the other way around won't ever see another tip from this way. If the owners don't feel that way, employing people who would put their personal views out there and represent them incorrectly, she should be let go!!! I won't be back until its cleared up because I will not support a hypocritical business.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 10/23/11 - 10:11 pm
0
0
KSL who is forcing all
Unpublished

KSL who is forcing all establishments to comply with their addiction? That has NEVER been the issue. I'm confused, that statement doesn't make sense. It is the other way around.

neuroticnurse
0
Points
neuroticnurse 10/23/11 - 10:34 pm
0
0
This was a great article. Get

This was a great article. Get your facts straight if you are going to rant about it in a negative manner. Only 2 bar owners showed up at the hearings and neither was from downtown Augusta. No one is going to stop coming to the bars if the ordinance passes. The workers will be healthier, the patrons will be healthier and the bar owners will be less likely to face a lawsuit should one of their workers come down with a disease caused by the second hand smoke that they were forced to work in.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 10/23/11 - 11:44 pm
0
0
neuroticnurse, your name is

neuroticnurse, your name is new to me so I need to preface my comments by informing you that I despise a cigarette about as much as anyone you can imagine. However; all you say is true, but that should reside with the owner of the business to decide. If he/she decides smoking is OK and employees sue, so be it. Let them hash it out; it isn't for the government to dictate.

socks99
250
Points
socks99 10/24/11 - 05:11 pm
0
0
Brad, When does everything

Brad,
When does everything stop being about YOU?
You are aligned with the banners, OK!
I suppose you like the prohibitions against smoking marijuana, too?
You are fine with throwing out 'tolerance' as long as its NOT your little red wagon.
That's hypocritical and short-sighted; but I expect you never to admit the truth.

socks99
250
Points
socks99 10/24/11 - 05:13 pm
0
0
When will the Augusta

When will the Augusta Chronicle verify the tale told by the young woman who claimed serious health consequences from working in a bar? Or, did I miss that?!

debbiep38
441
Points
debbiep38 03/22/12 - 09:33 pm
0
0
Be careful BJ, the next time
Unpublished

Be careful BJ, the next time you draw a breath, that mean ole CO, Co2, DSM Chemicals, Urquhart power plant, International Paper, FPL foods and 100,000 combustion engines are conspiring against you.

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