The Non-Smoker Protection Act, signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen in June, prohibits smoking in such public areas as malls, sports stadiums and restaurants.
“I don’t see ourselves losing business,” said Eddie McCrary, assistant general manager at Big River Grille & Brewing Works downtown on Broadway. “If anything, most people, especially our employees, were happy about it.”
While non-smokers may celebrate the legislation, some restaurant owners and smokers say they’re both confused and irritated by the new restrictions.
“It’s an obstruction of people’s rights,” said Anita McKenna as she tapped out a cigarette at the Gerst Haus on Woodland Street Sunday afternoon.
McKenna says she began smoking about four years ago to deal with pain from an operation. Her husband Larry stopped smoking more than 30 years ago, but said he didn’t agree with the ban.
“I stopped (smoking) because of the dangers, but I don’t think we should make smokers feel like second-class citizens,” Larry said.
Boyd Barbee, general manager at Gerst Haus, admitted that some smokers might initially leave, but he expects them eventually to come back.
“I can go through a three-hour dinner and smoke afterward,” said Barbee, a self-described smoker.
At Big River Grille and Gerst Haus, smokers can still take a puff on the outdoor patios, which are not included in the ban.
Read the full article in the Tennessean newspaper.