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REFLECTIONS - Ban has not affected some smokers' habits

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:11 PM

Jim Young thought the statewide smoking ban might affect the amount of people who are “out and about at night.” But the 24-year-old Norwalk smoker hasn’t seen a lot of changes — except in the dynamics of the social scene.

“People (are) going out constantly … disrupting the socializing,” he said. “The socializing ends up outside the bars.”

Being forced to smoke outside hasn’t changed the habits for Young, who smokes about a pack a day.

“It hasn’t curbed it all,” he said, but he has noticed other people look down on smokers. “You’re pushed outside.”

Alex Theisen, 23, has smoked for the last six years. What he’s witnessed is smokers grumbling about having to leave a building to get their nicotine fix.

“You’re not allowed to take your drink outside at all,” said the Norwalk resident who goes to Bluto’s Sports Bar & Grill about once a week.

“It’s kind of crappy. … I don’t know how anybody got the idea not to smoke in a bar.”

On Nov. 7, 2006, Ohio voters passed a smoking ban that became effective exactly one month later.

The new law required “public places” and “places of employment” to be smoke free as of Dec. 7, 2006, according to the Ohio Department of Health Web site. Those buildings were supposed to post “no smoking” signs with a telephone number for reporting violations: (866) 559-6446.

The state law also requires the locations to remove ashtrays and other smoking receptacles by Dec. 7, 2006.

The legislation hasn’t made Theisen smoke any less in public.

“Whenever I feel like smoking, I feel like smoking. I don’t think it’s curbed anything,” he said.

Bluto’s owner Mary Davie hasn’t seen any less smoking at her establishment. Her patio, where smoking is allowed and was built at the same time as the bar, is just as messy as ever.

She admits she has even gone out there for a “quick one.”

“That place is a wreck every day,” Davie said. “It hasn’t affected us a bit.”

The law has slowed down the tempo of league bowling at Kenilee Lanes & Pro Shop. The Seminary Street business has two shifts of leagues three times a week, at 6 and 9 p.m.

Owner Dwight Tkach explained that having people go outside to light up slows down how quickly his clients bowl. That, in turn, can delay the start of the second round of league play.

“That’s a problem,” said Tkach, who estimates between 20 and 30 percent of his league bowlers smoke. “It’s surprising how many times people go out.”

The second group of bowlers often complain about the delay, he said, “because it’s pretty late” when they start playing.

Tkach requires bowlers to change their shoes or put covers on them when they leave the alley to smoke.

“You worry about people with wet feet tracking water inside,” he said. “If it’s dry, it’s not a big deal anyway.”

He wishes the law had allowed for businesses to have a secluded smoking area.

“The smokers aren’t happy about (going outside), but they understand,” Tkach said.

The bowling alley owner, a lifelong non-smoker, sees one definite benefit to the smoking ban.

“It smells better (inside). My clothes smell better,” he said.

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