Bill Seeking A Complete Ban Smoking In Restaurants

Tuesday, February 19th 2008, 7:06 pm
By: News On 6

State law lets a restaurant have smoking as long as it's in a separate, specially ventilated room.  But now, just a couple of years after the room requirement, a new bill seeks to ban smoking altogether.  The News On 6's Steve Berg reports a local restaurant owner says that's unfair.

Freddie's Steakhouse in Sapulpa spent thousands of dollars to build their special room, that, if the bill passes, would be all for nothing.

Teresa Bartley has lunch at Freddie's because she likes the steak, but also because she likes to smoke.

"I have the right to smoke where I want to, as long as I'm not hurting anyone else," said Bartley.

And she's not, not there anyway.

The room is enclosed from the rest of the restaurant with oversized ventilations, smoke filtration and negative air pressure, all according to state law specifications.

"Very specific specifications, and that's why we spent the money to the tune of about $30,000 additional, to do this, you see," said Freddie's Steakhouse Owner Ed Slyman.

Slyman says it's a little unfair to set costly rules, and then just two years later, try to change them again.

"We've not even had a chance to depreciate what we have invested," said Slyman.

"Where now they're telling him, you wasted your money, now we're going to stop it everywhere," said Bartley.

And they both question whether there's really any point to the bill.

"The new bill is not going to stop people from smoking," said Slyman.  "I don't think it's going to stop smoking.  I think it's pretty obvious with the smoke shops that are in the state of Oklahoma."

Whatever happens, even though he's spent the money, Slyman says he's not planning a big fight.

"If it comes, then we'll accept whatever is there and follow the law," said Slyman.

Only about 2% of restaurants in Oklahoma built the specially-ventilated room.  The rest simply do not allow smoking.