Choosing To Go Smoke-Free

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

September 20, 2006

More than a dozen states in the U.S. have gone smoke-free. Virginia is not one of them, but some Charlottesville businesses are choosing to go non-smoking on their own.

'The X Lounge' is one of those establishments. It has been in town for about two months, but its not just new restaurants in Charlottesville jumping on the smoke-free bandwagon.

"It opens up the doors for a lot more people that wouldn't generally come out to a show here, and we still allow people to smoke downstairs at our bar," explained Vimala Nichols, the General Manager at StarrHill.

StarHill recently went smoke-free in their music hall. Management says smoking during shows could get overwhelming at times, even for the smokers.

Even patrons who are used to smokey environments said they like the idea of bars and lounges making the switch.

"I'm a musician," said Matt Wyatt, on his way to Wednesday night's show at StarHill. "I work out at night too, and the more smoke-free environments I'm in, the better I feel."

Health concerns are often one the biggest reasons states and cities go smoke-free, but at 'The X Lounge,' management said they simply didn't want the restaurant to smell like smoke. On the night the lounge opened, they allowed smoking at the bar. But the next morning management made the decision to make the bar smoke-free.

However, management at both restaurants realize that smokers are important to business. So whether it's a heated patio, or a downstairs bar, it's in their best business interest to give smokers a relatively comfortable and welcoming place where they can smoke.

"It's important," said J.F. Legault who's part of the management team at 'the X Lounge.' "It's part of being hospitable, and part of our business. And without guests, we don't have a business."

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