Smoking ban poses patron problems

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson A statewide smoking ban, which will take effect June 15, will be enforced by local fire, police and sheriff’s departments. Fines for violating the ban will range from $100 to $500.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A state-mandated smoking ban looming around the corner has some Clovis businesses looking for options to please their smoking clientele, while others are resigned to face change.

The ban will take effect at restaurants and businesses statewide June 15.

Trinidad Martinez with the Prince Street Lounge and Package said the business is looking at several options in the hopes of catering to its smoking customers. Choices range from becoming a cigar bar to installing an enclosed patio, he said.

Estimating more than 75 percent of the bar’s customers are smokers, Martinez said he has heard a lot of grumbling over the crackdown.
He believes it will hurt small-business owners.

“It (will) be a serious detriment upon our business, (and) it (will) be a detriment to the small businessman,” Martinez said.

The Prince Street Lounge isn’t the only place where customers are voicing dissatisfaction about the ban.

Rachel Moore of Clovis City Limits said she hears regularly from customers dreading the ban. “They’re upset about it,” she said.

Moore said she is not aware of any immediate plans to accommodate smokers at City Limits, though she said the bar’s owner has expressed concern and is conscientious of the fact a high number of smokers patronize the establishment.

Other establishments are just going about business. Randi Kingston, waitress and bartender at Webb’s Watering Hole, said there has been little or no discussion about the ban at the bar since it was passed and many seem to have resigned themselves to what’s coming.
“What else can you do?” she said.

The smoking prohibition, passed by the Legislature March 13, applies to any indoor workplaces and public places, including buses, taxis and other public transportation. Smoking will continue to be allowed outside, but not near doors or windows.

Among the exceptions to the prohibition are retail tobacco stores, cigar bars, casinos, state-licensed gambling facilities, private clubs, smoking-permitted hotel and motel rooms, and one-person offices not generally open to the public.

Local fire, police and sheriff’s departments will enforce the ban, with penalties ranging from a $100 fine for a first offense to $500 for a third in a 12-month period.

Businesses will be required to post signs indicating where smoking is permitted and also where forbidden, according to the bill.