EVANSVILLE – Bars in southwest Indianas largest city are adjusting to a new smoking ban that has generated mixed responses from bar patrons.
The smoking ban in Evansville approved this February by the city council took effect April 1. It excludes only the riverboat casino, Casino Aztar, in the Ohio River city of about 117,000 residents.
Peephole Bar & Grill bartender Alex Kapteyn told the Evansville Courier & Press that reaction has been mixed. She said some smokers hate it, and one loyal customer has vowed to no longer go to bars.
But with the ban only about a week old, Kapteyn said its too soon to know how it might affect business.
Right now all of the non-smokers are coming out and saying, Hey, were here, and were here to take back our bars, she said. But the question is, are they actually going to stay?
Amber Vanover, 24, thinks the smoking ban is healthier for everyone and keeps the bar from smelling like a smokehouse all the time.
Vanover, whos a smoker, visited the Peephole on Thursday night. She said she doesnt understand why everyone is whining, because going outside for a smoke isnt hard.
Im trying to quit smoking, and its easier, she said. On a normal night, Id sit in here and go through a pack of cigarettes a night.
A statewide smoking ban will take effect in July but has exemptions for bars, casinos, retail tobacco shops and private clubs such as veterans and fraternal organizations.
Ordinances in Evansville and other Indiana cities, however, are tougher.
Matt Perez, a 24-year-old University of Southern Indiana student, said it was weird when the ban took effect at 12:01 a.m. April 1.
My buddy was smoking, and they told him to put it out, they are very serious about it, he said. They started taking away the ashtrays, and you saw everybodys face turn to a frown as you looked around the bar.
Ryan Boone, owner of Hammerheads Sports Bar & Nightclub, said the good news is that patrons arent blaming the bars for the ban.
People still want to go out and drink. They still want to meet girls, and they still want to dance, Boone said. As long as they dont ban dancing and drinking, I think all the bars are going to be fine.