Blowing smoke

That’s the response from some Plymouth bar and restaurant managers to Michigan’s new workplace smoking law, which will ban smoking inside their establishments come next May.

The long-debated bill was signed into law Friday by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. It prohibits smoking at most indoor workplaces, with exceptions for truck cabs, cigar bars and tobacco shops, as well as the gaming floors of Detroit’s three casinos.

“I do not have a major concern about it,” said Paul Zajac, the general manager at Station 885 on Starkweather in Old Village. “To us, it’s just business as usual, and we’ll just keep doing what we’ve always been doing.”

But, Zajac added, Station 885 will be planning an outdoor smoking area that fits the requirements of the law. To his understanding, he said, any outdoor smoking area must be more than 50 feet from a door.

“In the long run it’s going to be a good thing, and I don’t think it’s going to affect too many businesses,” said Kevin Khashan, who, with brother Sam, owns Sean O’Callaghan’s, a tavern on Penniman.

Both Khashan and Zajac said they expected the ban to be passed sooner or later.

“I have a lot of people who just can’t wait for it,” Khashan said.

“We always knew it was just a matter of time,” Zajac said.

Like Khashan, Patrick Long, the general manager at Compari’s on the Park and Fiamma Grille, said the ban could help business by bringing out diners who previously would have considered a restaurant or bar too smoky.

Compari’s and Fiamma had been contemplating their own smoking ban for about six months, he said.

Regulars who smoke have weighed in on the ban. “A lot of them have told us they’re actually OK with it,” Long said.

Khashan said he lived in Florida and California, which have similar smoking bans, and that bars and restaurants there had more outdoor seating, where smoking was allowed. “It doesn’t seem to be much of a problem,” he said. But he was uncertain what restrictions Michigan’s new law might put on outdoor smoking.

Khashan said Sean O’Callaghan’s banned pipes and cigars last year, and that diners who aren’t aware of the ban are cooperative when told they can’t light up.

“I got more thank yous about it than anything else,” he said.


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