Written by Staff

Monday, 08 September 2008

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smoking banstobacco legislation

Orchard Street Chop Shop in Dover NH had a cigar lounge in a separate room in his establishment, but despite efforts to get language in the new legislation to allow for the special room, it's now gone

Molly Malone's Portsmouth NHMolly Malone's (Portsmouth, NH) owner Andrew Corbin had smoking in his restaurant until the ban in September 2007. He said there are many issues those who pushed for the ban didn't think enough about.

"The first thing that happened was that we had a bunch of customers smoking outside our front steps and they were accosted by our neighbor. With this whole thing - I wasn't going to make the decision for my customers, but now that it's here - no one thought about that there was going to be more smoking outside. People try to go into a restaurant and there are 10 to 15 people outside smoking."

Despite the strange-looking receptacles outside some restaurants where smokers can place their butts, some still throw their smoke ends on the ground.

"I've noticed more butts on the street," said State Street Saloon patron Rick Marasco. "I know they clean the streets really well in the early morning, but it seems like more to me."

Corbin said he's noticed changes in clientele since the ban.

"We're getting more families, which is nice, more elderly people, but the 'drinkers' aren't going out as early. They're going out later and staying home for dinner so they don't have to eat in a restaurant and leave the dinner table to go out and have a smoke."

He added that when smokers opt to leave the table to go outside to smoke, there are other effects.

"When they get up, there's a level of confusion for the staff. It also makes people stay at the table longer overall, and we can't turn the table over faster. I just think people didn't think of these things - the flow of the service and then the congestion outside."

Corbin said he allows patrons to smoke on his back steps where other customers won't be coming in to alleviate some of that congestion.

While many restaurant owners prohibited smoking before the ban and others notice no difference in business, Other restaurateurs, like Chris "Koz" Kozlowski of Orchard Street Chop Shop in Dover, have seen business drop. He had a cigar lounge in a separate room in his establishment, but despite efforts to get language in the new legislation to allow for the special room, it's now gone.

"It was the worst thing to ever happen to my business and many others that I have spoken to," Kozlowski said of the smoking ban. "We had a private cigar lounge called the Havana Lounge that was separated from the restaurant and did not affect any employees or non-smoking customers in the restaurant. Since the ban was enacted, we have seen business drop by approximately 90 percent in the lounge and (it) has not recovered. The No. 1 comment that we hear from guests at the restaurant is, 'I can't believe we cannot smoke cigars anymore here.' The smoking ban is not what the people of New Hampshire wanted. Most say this and about one in 30 say they are happy with the ban."

The chef and owner of the downtown steakhouse says that not only has he lost customers, his staff has lost tips and that entryway blockage is an issue.

"All of the regulars that we had on a nightly basis in to smoke cigars do not come anymore. Most of my employees miss having the cigar smokers because they used to make a lot more money than they do now. Many employees comment how they always liked the smell of cigars. Now, most customers stand in the cold out in front of the restaurant blocking customers from coming in and then we have to sweep out in front every day. The smoking ban has been a very negative thing for New Hampshire businesses, and I hope that new legislators will be voted in to help amend the ban."

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