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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Clearing the air

    When Proposition 201, the Smoke-Free Arizona Act, passed in November, critics and pessimists alike speculated it would only be a matter of time before smokers were put behind bars for their actions. Seven months later, in mid-June, their prophecy has come true – literally.

    Joe & Vicky’s Place, 3700 N. Oracle Road, has built what may be the best damn smoking section left in Tucson. Only problem is, you might feel like a convict until you leave.

    When the sports-bar’s owner Joe Palmer heard about the new law, he decided to invest between $10,000 and $14,000 remodeling his bar. The result is an indoor/outdoor patio that is open to the elements on one side, with white bars blocking your view of the opposing parking lot.

    Even though the patio turned out to be quite expensive, Palmer insists it was worth the investment.

    “”The waitresses definitely like it,”” Palmer said, adding that business and, more importantly, tip money, have stayed consistent. He thinks the patio will earn back its hefty price in the coming months.

    The most attractive aspect of the smoking space is not the Ted Kaczynski feeling it gives you, but the above-average air circulation. Because this patio is, for the most part, indoors, it’s just as cool as the rest of the building. Palmer has also installed a cooler to protect guests from the sun and give them the feeling they might just as well be in pre-May 2007.

    And because the patio is open on one side, it won’t share the fate of the Denny’s on North Speedway Boulevard, whose indoor smoking room was declared unlawful.

    Goin’ downtown

    But the new amenities aren’t as swanky for all Tucson bars and restaurants. In the downtown area, where the buildings are older and their owners may not have money to spare on remodeling, many make do with what they’ve got.

    Grill Bar and Restaurant, 100 E. Congress St., has enough of a loyal customer base to sustain it without remodeling. But as the blistering summer months drone on and students leave, it may be losing business.

    “”This year has been declined more so than last year, but it’s hard to really say,”” said Patrick Foley, a long-time Grill employee. “”Most look at it as an inconvenience, not a reason not to come.””

    Although the act was touted as a protection for employees, Foley and some of Grill’s other employees are critical of the law. Many traveling musicians who play in Grill’s bar area The Red Room have complained about the ban since they play inside for an hour without any breaks.

    “”I do really enjoy drinking and smoking, they’re kind of like buddies,”” said Fox Nichols, a dishwasher. “”It’s just another one of those things that make life that much better that the government feels they have to take away from us.””

    The District Tavern, 260 E. Congress St., is one downtown bar that has decided to remodel. A week before the ban, they built an outside patio they call the “”Nicotine Garden”” in the back. Unfortunately, this area is considered an add-on to the building, and therefore not qualified for the previous liquor license. Although they have applied for an extension of the liquor license to allow both smoking and drinking, District guests can’t bring their drinks on the patio when they go for a smoke.

    Still, the ban hasn’t noticeably hurt business. “”There has actually been an increase in sales because people don’t want to leave their drinks unattended so they drink them before they go outside to smoke,”” says Jose Torrez, a District bartender.

    Coffee and cigarettes

    But there is still one place in town where you can enjoy a smoke and a drink in the luxury and comfort of the indoors: Espresso Art. Although the smoking ban has all but eliminated cigarettes, this East University Boulevard haven still allows you to indulge in hookah – after 8 p.m. Before then, you’ll have to smoke a tobacco-free sheesha that the cafǸ has on order. Since they’re bringing out a tobacco product in the evenings, they’re legally prohibited from selling food at the same time. So if you’re searching for an after-dinner muffin, look elsewhere.

    The law also states that the tobacco product you’re smoking has to be mobile. If the employees catch you smoking at their tables, they’re legally supposed to tell you to get up. This outside rule also applies to the immobile hookah pipes, so paradoxically, you have to smoke this product inside.

    “”It kind of deters a lot of people from coming here to smoke hookah when there are other places in town,”” said Bryan Brown, an undeclared sophomore who works as a barista at Espresso Art.

    To circulate the air so the hookah doesn’t bother anyone, Espresso Art owner Danny Manheim installed a cooling device in the front by the door.

    As for smoking on campus, UA policy prohibits smoking in all buildings owned or leased by the school. Smoking is banned within 25 feet of building entrances and exits, “”fresh air intake grills,”” stadiums, or anywhere fire hazards may exist.

    It’s impossible to forget Safehouse, 4024 E. Speedway Blvd. They are considered a smoke shop, and most of their profits come from cigarette sales, so they’re probably the only place besides your car that you can pull out a cig indoors.

    Unlike many other businesses, Safehouse has not had to make any physical changes to the building, and is even allowed to continue selling food. But even if they had to undergo some drastic change, the diverse group of regulars would most likely keep the business going.

    “”We pretty much know everyone on a first name basis,”” says Kyle Fitzpatrick, a Safehouse barista. “”If they couldn’t smoke in here, they’d be smoking on the other side of the window.””

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