Lights out: Smoking ban takes effect in public placesBars and hotels in Jamestown are making changes, or awaiting more information as the ban that will extinguish cigarettes in public places goes into effect today.
By: By Ben Rodgers and Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Bars and hotels in Jamestown are making changes, or awaiting more information as the ban that will extinguish cigarettes in public places goes into effect today.
The Buffalo Bar & Lounge was one of those bars taking steps for the change.
“Today we had our carpets all cleaned and our air ducts all cleaned out,” said Casey Dodgson, co-owner of the Buffalo Bar & Lounge, also known as The Buff, Wednesday. “There’s a possibility we may paint, too, but they washed the walls down.”
People were still able to smoke in The Buff on Wednesday, but with two air-cleaning machines operating, the smell of cigarettes will soon be a thing of the past there.
Dodgson expects the smoking ban to hurt the business a little bit at first, but believes people will return after a while — and new customers will begin to show up, too.
“You don’t come to the bar to smoke. You come to socialize — at least that’s what we hope,” Dodgson said.
The smoking ban may have another benefit for The Buff, too.
“Employees are so hard to find right now, and I’m hoping … that’ll change once we can go nonsmoking,” Dodgson said. “… so we’re kind of excited about that.”
Employees who smoke haven’t been as happy about the changes, but they’ll get a little longer break time, he added.
Eventually, The Buff may add a smoking shack in the back.
In downtown Jamestown, the Corner Bar is feeling the pinch, according to owner Sheldon Oviatt.
Oviatt said at least 90 percent of patrons at his bar are smokers, and that 13 of 14 bartenders also smoke.
Unlike The Buff, Oviatt doesn’t have the room on his property to put up a smoking shack.
“There’s nothing I can do about it obviously,” he said. “I can’t build a shack or anything like that. As far as business goes I think it’s definitely going to decline.”
He said smokers have a place on the sidewalk where they will be outside of the distances mandated by the new law.
“We’ve already had clientele come in here and say ‘this is the last time you’re going to see me’ because they’re going to sit at home and drink or have garage parties or whatever,” Oviatt said.
He said he remained optimistic that business could return and he could get new customers, once the playing field is leveled and the ban has been in place for a while.
Down the block at the Wonder Bar Sports Bar, owner Tim Gilbertson said more than half of his clientele smoke.
He said the bar could see more customers, after the initial drop in business he is expecting.
“Hopefully the people that voted for it come out,” Gilbertson said.
Travelers stopping at the local Super 8 will now have their choice of 47 nonsmoking rooms, after the eight smoking rooms were converted last week.
That meant washing down the carpets, mattresses and walls, as well as changing out the lampshades and other elements in the room. It cost the business about $100 a room and took three or four days, said Janki Patel, whose husband, Nirav, owns the business.
“The customers like it, that now the whole property’s a nonsmoking property,” she said.
Nancy Thoen, director of tobacco prevention and control at Central Valley Health District, said when laws like this passed in other states, they were well received after a few weeks.
Thoen also said anyone who is interested in quitting who contacts CVHD will be referred to the North Dakota Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW, or told to visit www.ndhealth.gov/ndquits.
“Those (programs) are provided for people who are underinsured or people that don’t have insurance or Medicaid,” Thoen said. “We anticipate they’re going to get a lot of calls in the coming months.”
Both programs offer nicotine gum, patches and lozenges for those unable to obtain them through insurance or Medicaid.
“There is a nicotine replacement therapy provided for anyone without insurance, or if insurance doesn’t cover those items,” Thoen said.
The statewide programs replaced a local tobacco cessation course that was offered five or six years ago, she said.
The online and phone programs offer a more personalized approaching to quitting than the class did, she said.
Still, people can come to CVHD to have questions about the quitting process or medication answered.
On Wednesday, Thoen visited places that previously allowed smoking and helped put up signage or designate smoking spots 20 feet away from or doors, windows or air-intake vents, as specified by the law.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at email@example.com.