Smoking bans trending in downtown restaurants, but not all eliminate vaping

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Humphrey’s Bar & Grill in Huntsville is the fourth downtown establishment to ban smoking in the last nine months.

After a month-long social media poll, the owners decided to kick the habit in the restaurant and on the patio.

“We just felt like it was a sign of the times and we wanted the majority of the people to be heard,” said Humphrey’s manager Becky Vibbart.

“Eighty percent of the people that were polled wanted us to go non-smoking,” said chef-owner Chris McDonald, “and even people that haven’t been here before, would say they would come to Humphrey’s if it was a non-smoking establishment.”

McDonald also owns Humphrey’s adjacent restaurant, the Bottle.

He says he made the same decision there last month.

“We saw an increase in our sales,” said McDonald. “We had new customers, new guests I should say, that came in and thanked us for going non-smoking that they’ve been wanting to come in, but they just can’t tolerate the smoke and they will not.”

Humphrey’s also won’t tolerate electronic cigarettes.

“It’s kind of been set in California and over in Oregon and in Washington, so we’re just going to set the standard for ourselves and just say no vaping and no smoking right from the start,” said Vibbart.

The Office Break Room and Bar is another smoke-free restaurant in downtown Huntsville.

It never allowed smoking in the short time that it has been open, but for now, it has not banned e-cigarettes.

“We don’t necessarily have a policy because we don’t know much about it yet,” said co-owner Gregory Glass.

Other downtown locales, like the Voodoo Lounge Bar and Grill, openly allow vaping.

Most smoke-free laws were enacted before e-cigs became popular, so they don’t explicitly mention e-cigs.

Until those laws do, most business owners are left to navigate through the haze.

“Until there’s a major complaint or something like that or people just bring it up, then I think we’re okay with it,” said Glass. “We don’t have a real stance either way until the rest of the customers get affected by it.”

As for Humphrey’s, the restaurant is closed so the walls and air ducts can be cleaned of the smoke smell.

The doors will re-open Wednesday at 4:00 pm with a ribbon cutting scheduled for 5:00 pm.


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