Local business owners have seen few side effects from the Indiana Smoke Free Air Law, which goes into effect today. But some wish the law mirrored Illinois’ all-encompassing ban on smoking.
Danny Sirounis, owner of Commander Restaurant in Munster, said he and his customers embrace the new law. Sirounis said business is slightly up since the restaurant went smoke-free two months ago.
“It is a healthier environment,” Sirounis said. “Before we had people saying they wouldn’t come in with kids or older people. I do think that Indiana copped out by not going completely smoke free; there are too many loopholes.”
Mike Kozy, general manager of Hammond’s Olympia Lanes, also would have preferred an all-encompassing law.
“The state of Indiana really muffed this one,” Kozy said. “They tried to make both sides happy and hurt the guy in the middle. Being that my lounge is under the roof of the bowling center, I fall in the category of entertainment, which means my bar patrons who like to play pool, have a drink and smoke a cigarette can’t. But yet they can go down to the local ma-and-pa bar and do exactly that.”
Kozy said his night clientele is affected a little, but many of his customers come from Illinois and therefore are used to the smoking ban.
Kozy said if he loses any business it will probably be the after-bowling socializing.
Mark Hines, co-owner of the Town Club in Highland, said he does not like being told what to do by the government.
“I just think it is another footprint by this administration on our throats,” Hines said. “What is next? Are they going to tell you you can’t have pop in your refrigerator? The socialism thing has taken over America.”
That being said, Town Club went smoke free a month ago and Hines said he finds the smoke-free environment better for his customers and employees.
“It has not affected our business positively or negatively in any way,” Hines said. “It all balances out.”
Hines said he is losing a handful of heavy smokers to a bar down the street, but gaining families who stayed away in the past because of the smoking.
Both Sirounis and Hines said they see a positive improvement in the cleanliness of their establishments as they remodel and clean up the smoke residue.