Home > News > Archive > 23rd June 2005

Patrons go off ‘n’ smoke

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier

Joy LindsayBy Dean Taylor

Some Te Awamutu bar and club owners and managers are finding it tough going as the smoke-free legislation takes its toll.

Joy’s Place owner Joy Lindsay initiated a meeting between owners, managers and representatives of the Waikato District Health Board recently to discuss the implications of the legislation.

She says the facts are simple - once patrons go outside for a smoke, they don’t come back. Mrs Lindsay says the nature of her existing business means it is difficult for her to provide a pleasant, outdoor environment for smokers. She says she has spent a considerable amount trying to cater for her smokers, but it really has not worked and her patronage has been severely affected.

Mrs Lindsay says she had many regulars who smoke, and the nonsmokers who supported the legislation have not taken their place.

Mrs Lindsay also believes the legislation is creating other illegal or unsavoury practices. She says because she is a trained, experienced bar operator, her patrons are responsible and in control. As a result of more patrons drinking outside in designated smoking areas, examples were given of patrons urinating on the street and giving drinks to underagers. She says owners and managers could not be expected to control this behaviour.

Joy’s Bar regular Art King says he is a non-smoker, but does not support the legislation. He wrote a letter of support for Mrs Lindsay, which was included in the meeting, saying he has noticed the reduction in patronage and feels sorry for bar owners.
He says people can choose not to frequent bars where people are smoking, but to make smokers leave is not right. Mr King says the loss of revenue means people lose jobs and some bars and clubs will find it difficult to remain in business.

Another phenomenon of the smoke-free legislation, which has also hit Te Awamutu and Kihikihi, is the garage bar. The practice is not illegal if alcohol is not sold, as people are simply turning garages into social areas where people can gather to drink, smoke, enjoy darts or pool etc. The trouble, according to Mrs Lindsay, is that there is no trained personnel to keep an eye on the behaviour of those attending those establishments.

The Waikato District Health Board is adamant they would prosecute establishments flouting the law, although penalties had not yet been established. The Liquor Licensing Authority has also ruled that running a bar is a regulated business, and if owners are not prepared to obey the law, they will not be allowed to have a licence. To show they mean business, Cambridge’s Kelly Browne’s Bar owner Dean Risi has been ordered to close for three weeks from July 11 for his “defiant and unco-operative attitude” in refusing to comply with smokefree legislation.