Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A possible ordinance change in Troy could lead to a citywide smoking ban – including in bars. Photo taken at Cheers on the Henderson Highway in Troy.

A possible ordinance change in Troy could lead to a citywide smoking ban – including in bars. Photo taken at Cheers on the Henderson Highway in Troy. Photo illustration by Thomas Graning.

Troy business owners speak out about a possible public smoking ban

About seven establishments in Troy will be affected if the city passes an across-the-board ordinance that prohibits smoking in all public places.

In 2006, the city created an ordinance that did away with smoking in restaurants and the Troy City Council recently considered amending that ordinance to include banning the use of water pipes within the city limits.

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At the May 28 council meeting, Councilman Johnny Witherington withdrew a proposal he backed for a water pipe ban, citing a need for tougher measures – wiping out smoking in public places entirely.

“I am all for the smoking ban inside the city limits of Troy, anywhere there are underage people or children, especially small children,” said Max Reeves, owner of The Double Branch Lounge.

But Reeves said he doesn’t think the ban should include bars.

“Ninety-five percent of the people that come here to drink don’t want to if they can’t smoke, too,” Reeves said. “The other five percent don’t seem to mind. We are adults here. We are 21 years old and older.”

Reeves said he’s a little concerned that patrons who want to smoke will take their business outside of Troy.

“They’ll go to Montgomery, or Dothan, or Ozark,” Reeves said. “When that happens, we might as well turn in our liquor license and shut the place down.”

The Front Porch, 315 Exchange, The Double Branch Lounge, Alabama Tiki Bar, and Cheers all allow indoor smoking. And an establishment yet to open, Aposha Cafe and Hookah Lounge, has its roots in smoking tobacco with water pipes. Then there’s The Other Half, a room separate from the main dining area at The Half Shell Oyster Bar where smoking is allowed.

Two bars in Troy, Sips on the Square and The Brick, are already smoke free, though The Brick offers an outdoor area for smokers.

Jamie Taylor, who owns Cheers, said if the smoking ban passes, he’ll turn the outdoor deck attached to the main bar at Cheers into a smokers’ area. And he’s not at all upset about that.

“I personally like the idea of a smoking ban on places that do not have a separated area for smokers. In places like mine, I believe smokers intrude on the rights of non-smokers,” Taylor said. “I think your rights end where mine begin and indoor smoking is a violation of that.”

Eddie Baker owns the Alabama Tiki Bar and shared that he isn’t sure how the ban will affect the bar’s bottom line, but he does know there will be changes.

“The first thing that a bar owner is going to have to do, if this passes, is create an outdoor area for smoking, probably something covered so people can be out of the weather,” Baker said. “I can see it being an added expense.”

Baker said he has “quite a few” patrons who smoke and he believes the smoking ban is a reactionary response to a hookah lounge that could open in Troy in a few weeks.

“To me, it seems like a knee-jerk reaction,” Baker said.

“I believe if the city council was concerned about the citizens’ health, they would have done it years ago.”

In an online poll at troymessenger.com where 110 people voted, 60 percent said they favored a smoking ban, 27 percent said they were against a ban and 13 percent said they believed a compromise could be reached.

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves could not be reached for comment regarding the ban on Wednesday. At the May 28 city council meeting, council members Dejerilyn King Henderson and Marcus Paramore both said they supported the ban.

The first reading of a proposed change in the city’s smoking ordinance could come as early as the next scheduled city council meeting on June 11.

What do you think? Take our reader poll online regarding smoking and nightlife in Troy at troymessenger.com.