Smoking Ban Good for Diners, Workers

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THE ENQUIRER | OP-ED | FEBRUARY 21, 2015

As you make plans to go out for a meal, you have so many variables to consider. One concern that you should no longer have to consider when dining out in Kentucky: Whether or not the establishment is smoke-free.

Our restaurants, the Colonial Cottage in Edgewood and the York Street Café in Newport, went smoke-free voluntarily, yet we firmly believe that all Kentucky restaurants should be smoke-free with the passage of a statewide, smoke-free law.

Smoke-free policies benefit patrons.

Smoke-free policies protect customers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Even short-term exposure to secondhand smoke, say during a lunch or dinner, can have a negative health impact, affecting both heart and lung function. For many customers with asthma, exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger an attack.

Our customers tell us that they prefer dining at a smoke-free establishment.

At Colonial Cottage, we hope to be the type of restaurant where several generations of a family can gather. Parents with young children tell us that they prefer smoke-free air.

York Street Café is the highest rated of the 98 Newport restaurants listed on the popular Trip Advisor website. Not a single review mentions the smoke-free policy as a negative aspect of the experience at York Street.

Research by the Northern Kentucky Health Department last summer supports what our customers are telling us: 73 percent of Northern Kentucky residents said they prefer to dine in smoke-free environments. Plus, 31 percent of those surveyed said that if there was a smoke-free law in Kentucky, their frequency of going to Kentucky restaurants would increase.

Smoke-free policies benefit employees.

Working in a smoky place for six to eight hours is the equivalent of smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes. While our employees are fortunate to work in a smoke-free environment, many in the hospitality industry in Northern Kentucky are not.

No one should have to choose between a job and good health.

Because they are able to breathe clean air all day long, employees in smoke-free bars and restaurants are less likely to take time off for illness.

Even better: Employees at smoke-free establishments who smoke are more likely to quit smoking, increasing their productivity and further reducing absenteeism. When Colonial Cottage went smoke-free, some of our staff voluntarily chose to either quit smoking completely or reduce tobacco use.

Smoke-free regulations are appropriate.

A common argument against a smoke-free law is to let businesses choose, as we have, to voluntarily go smoke-free.

But this hurts our Kentucky businesses. The patchwork of local laws can be confusing to customers. Colonial Cottage, in Kenton County, is covered by a countywide ordinance (though the restaurant went smoke-free voluntarily seven years earlier). York Street Café in Newport is not covered by a local law.

One in three Northern Kentucky residents indicate they would go to Kentucky restaurants more often if they were smoke-free. Our Northern Kentucky restaurants and bars are competing with establishments in Ohio and Indiana, which have smoke-free laws.

The health risks from secondhand smoke, and the impact that tobacco use has on our state’s economy are too great to ignore. Similar public health issues impacting bars and restaurants, like food safety, are already regulated by the government.

A smoke-free law simply asks those who choose to smoke to do so outside so others aren’t exposed to secondhand smoke in an enclosed space.

Everyone in Kentucky has the right to dine or drink in a place that’s free from the dangers of secondhand smoke. It’s time for all Kentucky bars and restaurants to be smoke-free.

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