In anticipation of a new Wisconsin law banning smoking at bars, restaurants and workplaces that goes into effect in July 2010, Caffrey’s Pub, 717 N. 16th St., is going smoke free on Jan. 1.
Caffrey’s owner Mike Vitucci, who also runs Murphy’s Irish Pub at 1613 W. Wells St., said patrons will have the option to stand outside on a heated patio if they want to smoke.
“The response has been overwhelming (to going smoke free),” Vitucci said. “As a business decision it is kind of a roll of the dice for us.”
Vitucci said most patrons at his East Side bar, the Whiskey Bar at 788 N. Jackson St., have been very happy since the establishment went smoke free. Prior to making the switch, Vitucci did a small survey of bar patrons, including smokers, and most were in support of the change, he said.
“This decision is based more on health than anything else,” Vitucci said. “People notice how incredible it is that the bar smells so fresh.”
Vitucci said the decision to make Caffrey’s smoke free before Murphy’s was arbitrary. Although there is no set date for Murphy’s to become smoke free, Vitucci said he will base that decision on the response to the Caffrey’s smoke ban.
Caffrey’s manager Doug Daul said he supports the switch and thinks it will create a better environment for nonsmokers and smokers alike.
“As an employee working in the bar business, I think this is fantastic that we don’t have to breathe that kind of air in anymore,” Daul said. “I think the students will really appreciate this.”
Daul said signs will be posted in Caffrey’s this week that announce the early switch to a smoke-free environment. The bar will also be notifying patrons via its Facebook account.
Because of its location on Marquette’s campus, Caffrey’s is a favorite for many students. Tom Klind, a senior in the College of Communication, has performed with his band at Caffrey’s multiple times and goes there about once a week. He said he’s looking forward to not smelling like smoke or having a hoarse voice after a show at Caffrey’s.
“I think that people will go to the bar whether or not they can smoke,” Klind said. “Although some smokers may be slightly upset about it, the state law goes into effect over the summer anyway and so I don’t think they will blame Caffrey’s or take their business elsewhere.”
Although Klind said he personally supports smoke-free bars for health reasons, he believes the statewide ban goes too far.
“(The law) infringes too much on the individual rights of the owners of the property and establishments to allow smoking in their own facilities,” Klind said. “Clearly Caffrey’s is making their own decision as they are going smoke free prior to the statewide smoking ban, but I think other establishments may be less happy about the decision.”
Earlier this school year, the Union Sports Annex banned smoking during the dining hours of 4 to 9 p.m., though it allows smoking after that point.