Not smoking good for profits? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Not smoking good for profits?

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April 4, 2004

Albany -- As state lawmaker consider a smoking ban in most public places, some bar and restaurant owners fear the ban would hurt their business. But several studies show that once the smoke clears, a ban doesn't effect profits that much.

Food server Jason Williams has little time to rest. Business at this new Ryan's Buffet Restaurant in Albany is booming and this restaurant is one of the few locations in the large chain that is entirely smoke free.

"We are able to seat customer faster because we don't have that smoking room. So it frees that area up so we can get customer in and out faster," says Tim Bowles general manager at Ryan's restaurant in Albany.

A move Bowles says hasn't affected his profits. He says the restaurants decision to go smoke free was influence by growing trends at other restaurants across Georgia and around the country.

"I take them places like this because we don't have to worry about smokers," says parent Dereck Rickett.

Rickett's sons have asthma and he says he'd rather spend his money where they'll be safe.

"If we are around smokers and we are eating and then I have to take them to the hospital," says Rickett.

Supporters of statewide smoking ban in Georgia point out studies of places that already have a ban, such as New York, where restaurants and bar revenue has actually gone up since a the ban was put in place.

But not surprisingly, smokers threaten they don't plan to come where their smoke isn't welcomed.

"Given that I have a choice I would go to a place that permits smoking because I feel like I have the right to smoke," says Leslie Hatcher.And until the lawmakers pass a bill that says otherwise, smokers have that option.

Smoking in restaurants is banned in 7 states. The proposed smoking ban is now back in the House after the Senate added an amendment that would make it illegal to smoke in a car with a child.

posted at 6:35PM by scott.hunter@walb.com