Ads push smoke-free restaurants

June 13, 1997


Staff Writer

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening served up a smoke-free workplace advertising campaign Thursday that some Hagerstown restaurant officials found hard to swallow.

Dr. Martin P. Wasserman, Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was with the governor when he made his announcement about the program. He said the advertising campaign was designed to disprove the myth that a smoke-free restaurant means less business.

"If you run a restaurant you have the ability to allow smoke in your bar area," Wasserman said. "But some have decided to make it smoke free and have not noticed a decrease in business. In fact, it has increased."


The $150,000 advertising campaign announced by Glendening is intended to encourage bars and restaurants to prohibit smoking, and in turn reduce cancer and heart disease among employees and patrons by eliminating second-hand smoke.

"We lose 1,500 Marylanders every year in an innocent environment," Wasserman said. "They get heart disease or lung cancer because of other people smoking."

In 1995, the state adopted regulations prohibiting smoking in 90 percent of all workplaces. But in a compromise, exemptions were made for bars, restaurants with bars and 40 percent of hotel rooms.

Chris Jefferies, a manager at The Red Horse restaurant in Hagerstown, said that last Saturday night he gained the business of a large party because they were looking for a restaurant where they could smoke.

"They are absolutely wrong," Jefferies said of officials pushing the program. "I have three different dining rooms and I can accommodate smokers and non-smokers. If you eliminate smokers, you eliminate some of my business."

Jefferies said he can understand going smoke free if a restaurant has only one dining room with a divider because there is not a large division between the two types of customers.

"If you can accommodate both then you should be free to accommodate both," Jefferies said. "As long as you have separate rooms I don't see a problem because it will definitely affect business."

Lori Brown, a customer at Duke's Tavern in Hagerstown, agreed.

"Oh, please," Brown said when he heard that smoke free should not decrease business. "It affects business, especially in a bar."

Nelson Haje, owner of Washington Spy restaurant on Antietam Street in Hagerstown, said going smoke free would hurt business.

"I don't know how somebody can say that" it wouldn't, Haje said. "I know that I have a segregated smoking area. Usually my non-smoking areas fill up first, but I want to provide people with what they like."

Haje said that the hospitality industry would not be the hospitality industry if those involved did not cater to all customers' needs.

"It's my job to make everybody happy," Haje said. "If I could bottle it and sell it I'd be a millionaire."

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