More than six months after Michigan’s statewide smoking ban took effect, owners of local restaurants and bars say more families have been eating at their establishments.

While some owners worried that the smoking ban — which took effect May 1, 2010 — would decrease the number of customers who frequented their establishments, local restaurant owners and managers told The Michigan Daily that their businesses have actually picked up.

Jim Higgins, day manager of Ashley’s pub on State Street, said foot traffic has increased and that more parents are taking their children to the pub for meals.

“People aren’t afraid of the smoke anymore,” he said.

Though Ashley’s has seen a spike in family business, other businesses have seen no differences in clientele.

Ed Evers, manager at Scorekeepers Sports Grill and Pub Maynard Street, said he has seen neither an increase nor a decrease in business because of the ban.

“(The ban) hasn’t really affected us too much,” Evers said. “Everybody’s taken to the law well.”

Evers added he was not a fan of the ban at first, but he now thinks it’s beneficial.

“The smell of bars has gotten better,” Evers said. “It’s nice to go home not smelling like a bar.”

Art & Design freshman Madeline Young echoed Evers, saying she likes the ban because she’s doesn’t like the smell of smoke.

“I love the ban,” Young said. “I like not having to go to a bar and smell like smoke.”

Recognizing patrons like Young, some bar owners are even redecorating to get rid of the old smoke smell.

Adam Lowenstein, owner of the Alley Bar on West Liberty Street, said when he took ownership of the bar in August, he and his partners made an effort to eliminate the lingering smoke smell by tearing out the old carpet and putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

“Old smoke smell is worse than new smoke smell,” Lowenstein said. “And the best smoke smell is no smoke smell.”

Other local business owners whose bars were non-smoking before the ban say they have not been affected by it.

Ben Hammond, day manager at Good Time Charley’s on South University Avenue, said the ban has not impacted business because the indoor area was already non-smoking before the ban. However, customers could smoke in the outdoor café.

Since the ban took effect, customers cannot smoke in Charley’s outdoor café while eating meals.

Lowenstein, who also owns Good Time Charley’s and BTB Cantina above Charley’s, said he agrees with the ban but thinks people should be able to smoke outside while being served food.

But Higgins said smokers still go to restaurants and bars even though they cannot smoke inside.

“Definitely, there are crowds outside smoking, but it’s not ridiculous,” Higgins said.

Higgins, who said the smoking ban helped him kick his smoking habit, added that his customers who smoke still come to Ashley’s despite the fact that they cannot enjoy their cigarettes at the bar.

“It’s not like anyone else offers smoking,” Higgins said. “There’s nowhere else for them to go.”

Though a smoker herself, LSA freshman Brogan Dysert said she supports the statewide smoking ban.

“I think it’s good because obviously the health risks of breathing secondhand smoke, (and) I think it will help people quit,” Dysert said.

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