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LaGrange County businesses gearing up for smoking ban


Health is a good gift. So Angelo Tsitsos from the Howe Restaurant thought that going smoke-free in the restaurant on Mother’s Day would be a great gift to mothers. Tsitsos had made one room smoke-free on Mother’s Day in 2005, so it seemed fitting to go with that again for 2012.

The Howe Restaurant beat the state deadline to go smoke free by nearly two months as a new Indiana law banning smoking in nearly all public buildings goes into effect July 1. In general, the ban will prohibit smoking in most public places and places of employment. (See related article.)

“The law isn’t to ban the sale or use of tobacco products,” notes Greg Johnson from Tobacco Free Northeast Indiana. “It’s to produce a clean, healthy environment for employees and visitors to public places in Indiana.”

Johnson will be leading a special presentation on how the ban will affect businesses at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 4, at the LaGrange County Library. The presentation is being held in cooperation with the LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce.

Johnson said that the reception to the new law has been mostly positive from businesses. Restaurants have seen more families with kids coming in after they go to non-smoking, Johnson added.

Tsitsos said that some customers were negative about the change, but they have already come back to the restaurant. “Do it now,” he advises other businesses. He noted that, even without the law, he was looking at going completely smoke-free and had been talking to Johnson prior to the law being passed.

Along with increased family business, Tsitsos added that going smoke-free in his restaurant has helped with business by allowing for faster turn-around in seating, as well as faster seating as guests no longer have to wait for seats to open up in one section versus the other.

“It’s very nice now. It’s a very clean environment,” he added. “Do it now. The sooner, the better. There’s nothing to worry about.”