Bar patrons say smoke-free law would drive them away

Bill would kill Mount Pleasant bar, owner claims

For Tony Mesey, it’s a routine familiar to any teenager who hangs out with buddies at a nearby fast food restaurant every day after school.

Several times a week, the 56-year-old retired Navy veteran walks into JD’s Corner at 4701 Michigan Ave., lights up and orders the first of four to six beers.

Mesey, who started smoking at 13, figures he spends about $50 a week at the smoky neighborhood bar in Mount Pleasant.

But as much as he likes the place, Mesey said he would drink and smoke at home if a proposal to ban smoking in almost all public places – including bars – goes into effect.

“If I’m paying $2 a beer and can’t relax and enjoy myself, why stay here?” he said. “I can buy a six or 12 pack and smoke at home.”

That has bar owners Dana Maltzman and her son, Jay Maltzman, worried that passage of a bill now being considered by the Board of Aldermen could drive them out of business. To prevent bar patrons from heading elsewhere, the law wouldn’t go into effect until the county passes a similar law.

“It’s a choice. If you want to come in my bar, it’s a smoking bar,” Dana Maltzman said at a hearing of the Board of Aldermen’s Health and Human Services Committee last week.

Back at JD’s Corner later, bartender Sherree Brown said the proposal is a bad idea, even though she doesn’t smoke herself.

“You’re allowed to smoke in here. If you don’t like it, don’t come in,” said Brown, who’s worked at JD’s Corner for seven years. If the proposal becomes law, “I guess we’d be out of a job.”

Among the regular patrons who would stay away after a smoking ban is Dorothy Frost, 78. “I enjoy hanging out with my friends, having a couple of beers and smoking my cigarettes,” Frost said. But if she couldn’t smoke, “I wouldn’t come in. I’d stay home.”

source: http://suburbanjournals.stltoday.com

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