Campus-area restaurants could suffer from proposed smoking ban
Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA Economics senior Dizzy Wyse enjoys his cigarette at Gentle Ben's Brewing Co. yesterday afternoon. A Tucson city councilwoman has proposed a ban on smoking in local restaurants.
A Tucson city councilman said last night a proposal to ban smoking in local restaurants could prove detrimental to UA-area eateries.
"The ban could have devastating effects that could close businesses," said Democratic Councilman Jose Ibarra. "It should be left up to the owners as to who they want to cater to."
The council is considering a proposal that would stop people from lighting up in Tucson restaurants - a plan modeled after current laws in Mesa and Flagstaff.
Councilwoman Janet Marcus, a Democrat, proposed the smoking abolition Feb. 22. A public hearing on the proposal is slated for the April 12 council meeting.
Ibarra said the ban could force the closure of some University of Arizona-area restaurants that cater to smokers.
Matt Graham, general manager of Geronimoz' Restaurant and Bar, 800 E. University Blvd., said the ban could affect other types of businesses.
"I am concerned about the fairness of the proposed ban," he said. "If it looks like certain entities would benefit while others wouldn't, I would speak against the equity of the ban."
Graham said a ban would force people who smoke to sit outside, and restaurants with outdoor areas could possibly reap the benefits.
Maggie Geertsen, a bartender at Frog & Firkin, 874 E. University Blvd., said she did not think a ban would have any effect on business because of the restaurant's large outdoor patio.
Will McIntyre, a UA physics senior and Frog & Firkin patron, said he is opposed to any sort of ban directed toward restaurant smoking.
"As soon as they get restaurants, they will go after the bars," he said. "I am opposed on general principle. It's the whole idea that you can't do what you want to do."
McIntyre added that he thought the proposal would die if it were put to a public vote.
Democratic councilman Steve Leal said he will speak to a restaurant association to help determine whether the ban would be helpful.
"If the cultural norm is turning over on its own, if the rate of change is fast enough, it begs the question if the ban is even necessary," said Leal."If the government will put society through a ringer to make a law, it must be necessary."
Eric Swedlund can be reached at Eric.Swedlund@wildcat.arizona.edu