Smoke-free and successful CARROLL COUNTY

February 10, 1993

Conventional wisdom is that if you own a restaurant and wish to be profitable, you must permit smoking.

Don Bullock, the owner of Bullock's Airport Inn in the Carroll County Air Business Center, took the radical step of prohibiting smoking in his 75-seat establishment when he opened it four months ago. Instead of being bad business, his smoke-free policy has been good -- so good that he is now thinking of expanding his dining room and kitchen.

Cranberry Mall has also decided that limiting smoking will be good for business. Beginning Friday, the mall's management is going to restrict smoking to just a few areas. While customers will be given the opportunity to comment on the policy, the management of the Westminster shopping mall appears intent on keeping the restrictions in place. The manager said the smoking restrictions will enable "families to enjoy themselves."

Reports about the dangers of second-hand smoke -- particularly on children -- are obviously having an effect on commercial establishments. Even though Carroll County doesn't have any ordinances requiring the establishment of no-smoking areas, businesses are taking the initiative to either prohibit or restrict smoking. For people who don't smoke, don't like to breathe others' smoke, or suffer from pulmonary diseases, these steps are most welcome.

Some Carroll restaurants, however, are not interested in accommodating non-smokers. They won't set aside a non-smokers' area. At some, customers requesting a seat away from smokers are treated with contempt, and even hostility. The entrepreneurs may find out that this is not good business, particularly as the number of smokers declines and non-smokers become less tolerant of eating or shopping in smoke-filled restaurants and malls.

While some jurisdictions have decided to enact legislation that would require the creation of smoke-free sections in restaurants, it appears that the county's restaurateurs may take action on their own.

We don't know whether Mr. Bullock is correct to attribute his restaurant's popularity to its smoke-free environment, but he isn't about to trifle with success. It will be interesting to see if others follow his example.

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