Annex enacts smoke-free hours

Don’t expect to light up a smoke during Marquette basketball viewing parties at the Union Sports Annex this year.

The Annex has gone smoke free during the dining hours of4 to 9 p.m. This change in policy has been an ongoing process, said Ali Myszewski, assistant director of the Alumni Memorial Union. For the past four years, the Annex has partnered with the Center for Student Health Education and Promotion to promote the national program The Great American Smokeout by going smoke free for the day.

The new policy of no smoking during the hours of 4 to 9 p.m. was decided upon in spring 2009. The Wisconsin Legislature passed a smoking ban law in May, after the Annex’s new policy had already been agreed upon. The law does not go into effect until July 2010, and orders all restaurants and bars to be smoke free indoors.

“It’s good that people have a year to adjust to the no smoking. It’s smarter than starting with a ban,” said Garret Lenz, a sophomore in the College of Engineering.

Myszewski said they still have the potential to implement a full smoke-free Annex before next year, but they were not sure if the state was going to pass a smoke-free law.

“This provided an opportunity to see how people would respond and allowed us the potential to expand to the full duration of the Annex being smoke-free down the road” Myszewski said. “This was our first step in a larger process.”

Many servers at the Annex are happy with the change in air quality.

“It’s much better going home and not smelling of smoke,” said Chelly Calandra, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. Calandra is originally from Chicago, which instituted a smoke-free ban in 2007, and was surprised to find out how many people smoked when she first started working in the Annex.

One of the Annex’s bartenders, College of Communication senior Frank Michael, said he he didn’t notice many smokers before the change, and smoking never seemed to be a problem to him.

From 4 to 9 p.m. ashtrays are removed and employees are responsible for enforcing the non-smoking policy. Signs are posted around the dining and bowling areas letting patrons know the building is smoke free until 9 p.m.

Patrons at the Annex will notice a much cleaner air quality during dining hours.

Charlie Klabunde, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, said he feels the Annex has lost the appeal of its atmosphere as a sports bar. Others, like College of Business Administration sophomore Alex Robertson, see the smoke-free hours as a good compromise.

“It’s nice for both sides,” Robertson said, “because non-smokers who want to enjoy a meal can come during the hours of 4 to 9 and smokers who still want to enjoy the bar atmosphere can come later.”