Smoke-Free vs. Free to Smoke

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I am the general manager of Finn MacCool's Irish Pub on Eighth Street SE. My customers primarily are professionals and families who live and work in the neighborhood. The pub has two dining areas and bars, each with its own heating, ventilation and air conditioning


Most of my floor and kitchen staff are worried that their livelihoods will be damaged by a smoking ban [news story, June 19]. Customers who smoke spend more time and more money than those who do not. Often I have difficulty staffing the nonsmoking section of the restaurant for that reason.

My servers, bartenders, food runners and busboys and girls have chosen to work in a restaurant that allows smoking because they feel it is in their best interest financially or because smoke does not bother them. Less than a block away is a restaurant that is smoke-free. Just like customers, restaurant workers have the freedom to choose.

I don't deny the negative health effects of smoke -- the scientific evidence is overwhelming -- and I am concerned about the health of my employees. However, I am also concerned with their happiness, which is tied to a positive work environment and a busy restaurant.

Smoking is not a crime -- it is a regulated activity, just like the consumption of alcohol. It is the duty of the D.C. Council to regulate smoking in a reasonable manner, but that should take the form of legislation that respects the wishes of customers, restaurant workers and owners.



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