I recently got an email from a friend who asked if I had eaten at a new restaurant in town. I told him that I had but that I hadn’t been back. Not that the food or service was bad, but…well, I’ll let him tell you:
“Me and (his wife) and the baby were gonna’ eat there the other night but when we asked for non-smoking it was in the same room as smoking. The whole room was a cloud of smoke and we just said no thanks, we will go somewhere else! I mean at least put those of us that choose not to expose ourselves and our 4-month old to floating cancer in another room!”
I understand where he is coming from. My family and I don’t patronize restaurants where we are forced to share the air with those who choose to smoke and are allowed to smoke in the same room with us. Sometimes that means driving out of the way but it is worth it not to have to inhale someone else’s airborne toxins. Certainly, any adult who chooses to smoke has every right to do so, but shouldn’t my family and I have the right, as non-smokers, to not inhale secondhand smoke? It has been well documented that secondhand smoke poses a serious health risk to those who are exposed to it. If you were at a restaurant sitting a few tables away from someone who had had several beers, you wouldn’t like if they kept walking over to your table to burp in your face. All you wanted to do was to go somewhere and enjoy a nice meal and relax and having someone blow their previously inhaled air into your personal space would not only be a bit disgusting, but would probably also diminish your enjoyment of your meal.
This is not an indictment of smokers. I once was a smoker myself. I have friends and acquaintances who smoke. Smokers aren’t bad, evil people. The habit of smoking, however, is dangerous and those of us who choose not to smoke shouldn’t have to involuntarily. Especially our children.
I hear lots of business owners, particularly owners of restaurants, who say that a smoking ordinance would hurt their business. May I ask a question? If you allow smoking in your restaurant I know that my family is not the only family who will choose not to eat there. How is that not hurting your business? My family eats out almost every night of the week, too! The city of Montgomery has a smoking ordinance which allows restaurants to choose whether they will allow smoking or not. If they do, then the whole restaurant has to allow smoking. There is no non-smoking area at all. Outback Steakhouse is a non-smoking establishment. In fact, they chose to be non-smoking well before Montgomery’s ordinance was even enacted. If you happen to drive by there on a Friday night around 6:30 or so, take a look at how many people are waiting outside for a table and you will see quite a crowd. It would appear that being a non-smoking restaurant hasn’t hurt their business at all. I might even go so far as to say it helped their business!
Has the time come for Wetumpka to consider some sort of smoking ordinance? Would any council member be willing to address this subject? Would there be a great hue and cry against such an ordinance? Is it even an issue people care about? What do you think?