MARK KIESLING: Smoke ban a strike with bowling folks

2012-07-01T00:00:00Z MARK KIESLING: Smoke ban a strike with bowling folks nwitimes.com
July 01, 2012 12:00 am

It might be a lucky strike, and it might not be.

One of the places you could go in Indiana and inhale an astonishing quota of secondhand smoke is a bowling alley.

As of today, that is history.

Smoker Shelley Wittenhagen of Dyer, who was bowling at the Stardust Lanes in Dyer on Wednesday, said she has no problem with Indiana's smoking ban, which goes into effect today.

"Just go outside," she said. "A lot of kids are present. I know a lot of teenagers like it because this is a sport where they can smoke while bowling, but me, I'm in my 40s, so it doesn't matter either way."

Stardust already bans smoking on Saturdays until 6 p.m., when the kids go home and the adult leagues start.

"We're thinking of putting benches outside," Stardust Vice President Todd Bredar said. "We have actually had more positive comments than negative. We had a lot of people quit bowling because of the smoke, and we hope to see a lot of them come back."

Across the Illinois line, the reception at Lynwood Bowl was more mixed. The marquee outside reads "SMOKE FREE!," but general manager Bob Carlson is not convinced the switch mandated by Illinois law has worked in his favor.

"We waited for the Illinois mandate for better or worse, and it was for worse," he said. "The leagues who want to smoke, they can go five minutes down the the road (to Indiana). We might get some back now, but some may quit altogether if they can't do what they want to do."

Not so, said Lynwood bowler Joe Smeyers, who hails from Michigan City but works in Chicago Heights.

"Now they can't smoke in Indiana," he said. "Whaddaya want to do? Go to Iowa or Wisconsin? It might bring bowling back here."

Abaco Peters of Lansing said she likes to go to Lynwood Bowl because of the non-smoking.

"The air's cleaner," she said. "It seems like a better environment to be in."

Her friend Megan Szymanski agreed. "I like it because you don't smell like smoke and your lungs don't get damaged as you get older."

"I like it here," said Megan's sister, Jordan Szymanski. "I have asthma, and it makes it easier on me."

Although the Indiana law exempts bars from the smoking bans, none of the lounges in bowling alleys will be able to allow smoking because they are facilities permanently attached to a nonsmoking facility.

Todd Bredar, the Stardust manager, said he already has spoken with league officials and said he is hopeful leagues will return.

"We hope to see some of the people come back," he said. "It's a lot more positive than some of the people were anticipating it to be."

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

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