Bar say smoking bylaw hurts
By Laura Katsirdakis
Local London smokers may be annoyed by recent bylaws banning
smoking in public places, but some London businesses, particularly
downtown bars, are more than just annoyed — they’re
The bylaw banning smoking inside London bars came into effect
July 1, 2003, said Jim Reffle, director of environmental health
at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. There have been smoking
bylaws in place since 1994, he said, adding the amount of space
in public places for smoking has been reduced over the years.
“The Health Unit is the enforcement unit [for this bylaw]
in London and [the] Middlesex community,” Reffle said,
noting the Health Unit’s staff does inspections and responds
to complaints related to the bylaw.
“The bylaw has affected my business very much,” said
Chris Georgopolous, owner of the Ridout Tavern. “We’re
not only a bar, we serve food during the day as well — we
used to have 50 to 100 customers every day for lunch and we now
have about 25 to 30.”
Night business has been affected as well, Georgopolous said.
Customers are forced out to the patio to smoke and while this
is all right in the warmer months, it is a problem in the winter,
he said, explaining an attempt was made to maintain a fully-enclosed
heated patio last year, but it was simply too expensive and
the patio will be closed this winter.
“The majority of our customers were smokers,” said
Melissa Millet, assistant manager of Kokopelli’s. “We
had to lay off one-third of our serving staff, lower our drink
prices and go from a full menu to just appetizers.
“We don’t have a patio so there is a constant flow
in and out,” Millet said, adding it is not possible to
add a patio because of Kokopelli’s downtown location.
Ray Luft, Kokopelli’s owner, said revenues are about
40 per cent lower than last year at this time. “Liquor
sales have gone down by 30 per cent [but] draft beer prices
have gone down 90 per cent — the crowd we lost was the
pub crowd, not the late night crowd.
“The daytime and early evening crowd is gone altogether,” Luft
said. “Any good [the City of London] did spending money
on the downtown was undone in the past six months.” Luft
said he is considering selling the bar if an appropriate local
Dan Smith, manager of on campus bars The Spoke and The Wave,
said he feels the smoking bylaws are unfair. “The bylaws
give certain [bars] advantages over others,” he said,
explaining some are not able to add patios.
“We’ve had other [bars] saying they’re busier — people
want to go to places with no smoking,” Reffle said.