Tyler Restaurants Smoke 'Em If They Want 'Em - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/06/02 Tyler

Tyler Restaurants Smoke 'Em If They Want 'Em

Next week, the Longview City Council will hold a public hearing on a controversial proposal to ban smoking in the city's restaurants. Several years ago, the city of Tyler decided against a mandatory ban, continuing to allow each restaurant make its own decision.

At Fuller's Fine Foods, the lunch rush is packed and the front room is all smoking section.

Waitress Mary Small says, "We're probably 75 percent smokers, 25 percent non."

While Longview discusses going smoke-free, Smith County restaurants will make their own decisions. And at Fuller's, their traditional crowd makes their choice clear.

"I've had a few of the smokers come to me," Small says, "And say, 'you know if you go nonsmoking, you'll lose my business.' They won't feel comfortable having their coffee or breakfast in the morning and have the cigarette afterwards."

Meanwhile, at El Charro's restaurant on Front street, the entire place is smoke free, and has been for three years.

Owner Gus Ramirez explains, "We polled the customers after we did that and there were nine people who complained about it and said they would never come back."

"As you can see, that was all right," Ramirez says, pointing to his full restaurant.

With no legislation to force the issue, the Smith County Health District is instead offering franchise discounts to restaurants which go smoke-free. With the savings only between twenty-five and fifty dollars, Ramirez says it's nice, but not the reason behind his decision.

"When you're in business," he says, "Any kind of little break is good but we didn't need that, it wasn't our motivation. It's the time. People don't want to be around cigarette smoke when they're eating.

Out of Smith County's four hundred and nineteen sit-down restaurants, one hundred and seventy two have chosen to become totally smoke free, or forty-one percent.

Smoking or Non?

Reid Kerr reporting.

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