Deadline nears for restaurant smoking ban

Tuesday, February 21st 2006, 9:50 am
By: News On 6

"Smoking" or "Non-smoking" might be a non-question come March 1st. That's when a new state law takes effect that requires restaurants to build a specially-designed room to accomodate smokers.

As News on 6 reporter Steve Berg explains, not many restaurants are willing to burn that kind of money.

Ed Slyman at well-known Freddie's Steakhouse had to rustle up some serious dough for his restaurant's new smoking section. "I'd tend to say this portion of it was in the neighborhood of $80,000."

Slyman was in the process of renovating the restaurant anyway, so he figured he would go ahead and meet the state's new requirements. Slyman is a non-smoker himself, in fact he says he's allergic to it, but he made a business decision based on location. "We get a tremendous amount of people that are traveling on 66. We get a lot truck drivers that come through here. They'll be staying next door or living in the area and they're smokers."

But it's not enough for Freddie's just to have a separate room, he had to have a completely separate heating and air conditioning system put in.

In fact, the way another restaurant owner describes it, it's more like a scientific chamber.
Arizona Restaurant's Heyka Zambrano: "The way they want is you have to have a whole separate ventilation system, a separate air-conditiong system, separate heating system. It has to be a completely enclosed door and it has to be sub-pressurized so everytime someone walks through the door, the smoke will stay in that room."

Like a lot of restaurant owners, Heyka Zambrano is going smoke-free and hoping for the best. "I have some very faithful people that come here a lot that always sit in smoking and they leave a lot of money here and I hope they will continue to do so."

Heyka doesn't want to lose any business, but the idea of spending $10,000, $20,000 or $80,000? "That's a lot of enchiladas."

The law does not apply to stand-alone bars, cigar shops, and bingo halls. Smoking is also OK in the "outdoor" seating areas of restaurants, as long as it's 15 feet from the door.