By Lawson Box
While bar patrons have mixed feelings about the new citywide ban on smoking indoors, some university area bar owners say they are happy about the ordinance as they expect even more students to frequent local watering holes.
The New Orleans City Council unanimously voted Jan. 22 to ban smoking in most places across the city. Owners and bartenders in the uptown university area are excited they’ll be able to work in a cleaner, healthier environment while business is expected to improve.
David Melius, owner of Bruno Tavern on Maple Street, said smoking has hindered his business.
“There have been cases of people choosing not to have parties here because they don’t like all the smoking,” Melius said. “We’ve also had good people we’ve wanted to hire but couldn’t because they don’t like all the smoke.”
Mindy Jarrett, a bartender at The Boot estimates that about 75 percent of the bar patrons smoke, but the ban won’t affect business at all.
“People don’t come to The Boot to smoke; they come to drink with their college friends,” Jarrett said.
Fat Harry’s, a bar popular with students visiting home from other schools, banned smoking in 2009. According to General Manager Harry Leche, business has actually improved because non-smokers prefer not to smell of cigarettes.
“A few regulars said they weren’t coming back, but we gained new regulars because they like the smoke-free environment,” Leche said.
While the bar owners and workers are happy about the ban, students have more mixed views, including Katie Camet, a nursing student at Tulane.
“Where and how people smoke shouldn’t be controlled by the government, it should be controlled by the business.” Camet said.
Max Conway, a junior at Tulane majoring in finance is a smoker who supports the ban, and suggested that it could actually reduce smoking among college students.
“It’s a filthy habit,” Conway said. “Incoming freshman who don’t smoke will be less likely to pick it up.”
Students who enjoy smoking in bars can do so until April 22, when the ban officially takes effect.
Lawson Box is a senior in communications at Loyola University New Orleans. This article appears on UptownMessenger.com in partnership with the Beginning Reporting class taught by Loyola Maroon advisor Michael Giusti.