The deadline to renew your business smoking permit has now come and gone. Since the city passed a smoking ban last year, all businesses are required to purchase permits to allow smoking. Now, the city will send out late notices to notify business owners who have not yet paid their $78. Many restaurants in Lubbock are deciding to skip the hassle all together and go smoke free.
"We'll just find somewhere else to go smoke," says smoker, Elmer Yung. That's the chance, David Cia, says he'll have to take with all of his smoking customers. Cia owns three local restaurants. All of them have permits to allow smoking. But after this year, he may decide not to renew the permit at Orlando's on Indiana. He will voluntarily go smoke free. The reason...money. "You can't afford it and stay in the business, can't do it. We would have to enclose a room just for the smokers, that's not economically feasible for us," says Cia.
The city ordinance says by the year 2004, businesses that allow smoking must have separate and ventilated smoking rooms, but is it really worth it? Some restaurant managers say smokers are slowly becoming a smaller percentage of their business. Accommodating that small percent, is just too expensive.
Gary Danhof manages the new Texas Roadhouse. He says he has no plans to make any changes. "We're a brand new building and we're not going to go and add new ventilation systems to really the only choice we have is to go non-smoking," says Danhof.
NewsChannel 11 called ten random restaurants to see what they plan to do in the future. Eight say they'll go smoke free. Two are undecided. But when it comes down to it, money is the deciding factor and restaurants must decide whether or not to make the investment.
Once again, the city has already started sending out late notices to remind businesses to pay their smoking permits. Once a business receives the notice, they have 10 days to shell out the $78. If they don't, they will have to go smoke free until 2004. If your business has no plans to buy a permit this year, the city would like to know. You can call them at (806) 775-2928.