De Soto bar managers, customers give smoking ban a thumbs down
Trey Heffner doesn't know how the JT’s Grill and Sports Bar he manages will respond to the new state smoking ban, but he knows he's concerned.
Gov. Mark Parkinson signed a bill Friday that would ban smoking in restaurants, bars, work areas and most other public places.
The bill, which will becomes law July 1, will replace local bans like those in Lawrence and Overland Park.
The bill also makes it illegal to smoke within a 10-foot radius of a doorway.
“Kansas won; special interests lost,” Parkinson said to cheering clean air advocates who crowded into the south wing on the second floor of the Capitol for the signing ceremony.
The losers stand to be bars, restaurants and smokers who frequent them, Heffner said.
"I'm concerned about the loss of business, but more so for the people who come to the bar to smoke," he said. "I read last year there was a 30 percent drop in business for bars and restaurants in townships and counties with bans."
JT’s hasn't yet had a discussion about the ban but soon would, Heffner said. One possibility was to have an outdoor dining and drinking area, a prospect complicated by the 10-foot doorway radius provision.
"We'll do what we need to do to protect our business," he said.
Sitting at the bar, customer Roger Jones said he, too, opposed the ban. He only smoked cigarettes when drinking beer and with smoking bans in Lawrence and larger Johnson County cities, De Soto was one of the few places he was allowed that right, he said.
"It was something we had here," he said. "Now it's going."
Connie Shackelford, owner of Beer Thirty, said as a private club the ban wouldn't affect her business. But, she said the state should butt out of how she and other bar owners run their businesses, especially in light of a taxes they pay on alcoholic beverages.
"I don't agree with it," she said. "When you own a business, you should have the right to decide whether to be a smoking on non-smoking establishment.
"Everybody has a choice. People choose to come in here knowing there is smoking."
Customer Tom Tilden, who doesn't smoke, said the ban was unnecessary.
"It doesn't bother me," he said. "If the smoking gets to me, I can go to the other end of the bar and get away from it.