Smoking Ban Having No Impact?

By now most Houstonians have probably gotten used to the ban on smoking in public places. But what impact is it having on business? A new study has some answers. Bill Stamps reports.
In Houston you can go to any sports bar and scream your head-off for your favorite sports team.

(sound sports fans screaming)


If sports aren't your thing...they're bars or restaurants with live music like Zydeco.

(entertainment music playing)

Yes, there's lots to do in Houston, but what you can't do is smoke--at least not inside. The ban has been in place for a year and a half, and it appears it hasn't  impacted business they way some people thought it would. Andrew Evans is the manager at Barry's Pizza.

"We did have a fairly large smoking customer base, but for the most part most of them just kind of head out to the patio, smoke a cigarette and come back in. So it really hasn't affected us much."

The city put the smoking ban into effect in September of 2007. A year and a half later, they did a study to see if the ban hurt business the ways some owners and managers thought it would. The answer is no. The smoking ban has had no effect at all.

It's lunchtime at Barry's. The restaurant is full and not a single person is on the patio.

"Do you get any tough customers that refuse?"

"A couple out-of-towners that don't know that you can't smoke inside, but I tell them and they're always understanding and they'll put it out, or go outside."


Across town at Mandola's Deli, owner Frank Mandola says smoking inside is never and issue.

"There's still people who go out and smoke and then they come back and join their party. But like I said, the ban does not effect me at all."

The managers says smokers don't miss much by going outside. Most patios have TV monitors so you don't miss any of the game and they've got speakers as well…so you can still hear the music as you light up.

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.