Tara Vreeland, News On 6
SAPULPA, Oklahoma -- Some Oklahoma restaurants are being offered a rebate to close their smoking rooms.
The Oklahoma Department of Health launched its "Restaurant Smoking Room Rebate Program" at the beginning of the month.
The goal is to boost the health of Oklahomans and to help the bottom line of participating restaurants.
The health department is offering the rebates to help kickback some money restaurants invested into their smoking rooms. But it's up to the restaurant owners to decide if the rebate is worth it.
Freddie's BBQ and Steakhouse in Sapulpa is a popular stop off highway 66.
Ed Slyman built Freddie's in 1979, back when you could smoke anywhere in the restaurants. Now, Freddie's has a smoking room.
The Oklahoma Department of Health says there were five requirements for smoking rooms.
• The rooms must be fully enclosed.
• They must directly exhaust outside.
• The rooms can't have return air that serves non-smoking areas.
• The air flow in the doorway cannot blow into the other rooms.
• And the smoking room's exhaust must be 25 feet from any entrance or exit to the building.
"We went through a major, major renovation when we did this," said Ed Slyman, owner of Freddie's BBQ & Steakhouse.
Slyman says revamping Freddie's was worth the $90,000 investment.
"Because I felt like it was the right thing to do. If you were going to do something... do it right," Slyman said.
But now Slyman is considering going smoke-free. The State Department of Health is offering a rebate of 50 percent of capital expenditures for certain smoking room construction costs minus the cost of depreciation.
The Health Department says the money comes from the tobacco prevention and cessation revolving fund. Restaurants have a 16 month window to take advantage of the rebates.
"I'm the type to change for the betterment of the business," Slyman said.
Slyman says he's noticed that many customers will come for the service and the wait staff, and not because of the smoking room.
Applications and information packets for this limited-time program are now available at http://www.ok.gov/breatheeasyok/ under the "Smokefree Restaurants" tab or by visiting http://www.ok.gov/health/.
Further information is also available by calling the OSDH at 405-271-3619, or 1-800-522-0203, emailing TUPS@health.ok.gov.