The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

July 4, 2013

No Smoking

(Continued)

"But I don't know ... did we we lose non-smokers to Courtside, too? I think maybe it evened out. They made a bold decision," he said.

Revenue didn't change much in the hotel bar, he said.

"Now I couldn't imagine having smoking in here," Schwartz said. "To me, it's been a positive thing."

Once the law went into effect, revenue still didn't seem to change at the Tom Tom — or perhaps, he felt, it went up a bit as their specific clientele was more willing to come out for a drink and a snack without the smoky environment. Besides, Schwartz said, once the law went into effect, it "leveled the playing field" so all bars were smoke free.

Not all, said Whitson.

Once the ban went into place, he saw revenue at the VFW club drop by one-third. He said the message he got from lawmakers was that he should do a better job managing the club's business. Then those lawmakers passed an exception for the state's own casinos because they feared prohibiting smoking could cause revenue to drop by about a third, Whitson said. So patrons could (and still can) smoke in casinos.

That fact didn't help the Ottumwa VFW or other entities refusing to comply.

The state threatened then levied fines. The state liquor board got involved, threatening to pull valuable liquor licenses. In some cases, they did just that.

"Ours was suspended for 30 days," said Whitson.

His arguments mirror those from other managers: Citizens can decide to smoke or not smoke, businesses can dictate their own policies, veterans in private clubs have earned the right to have a beer and a cigarette.

And if the state thinks smoking is so bad it must be banned, why isn't it banned from the places making them money?

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