Caffrey’s Pub smoke-free environment receives thumbs up

Since Jan. 1, Caffrey's customers who smoke have taken their cigarettes outside or to the heated outdoor patio.

A little more than a month after Caffrey’s Pub’s decision to go smoke-free, the bar’s owners and patrons are reporting increased satisfaction with the pub’s overall environment.

Caffrey’s,  717 N. 16th St., instituted its policy on Jan. 1. A statewide smoking ban for bars, restaurants and taverns will take effect in July.

According to Caffrey’s manager Doug Daul, the bar’s decision to go smoke-free this winter was based only partly on the upcoming statewide ban. Demand from students and customers also played a role, Daul said.

“It’s part of our plan to stay ahead of the game and give the customers what they want,” Daul said.

Mike Vitucci, owner of both Caffrey’s and Murphy’s Irish Pub, 1613 W. Wells St., said he has seen an increase in business and satisfaction with the bar.

“(The smoking ban) created a more pleasant environment to work and socialize in,” Vitucci said. “The response has been fantastic.”

Both Vitucci and Daul said they received positive feedback about the ban. According to Daul, bar attendees and staff have found the non-smoking atmosphere to be more favorable than a smoking atmosphere.

Smoking is allowed on Caffrey’s heated outdoor patio, making the transition easier for the bar’s patrons who smoke. According to Vitucci, the outdoor patio was built in 2002 to help attract customers, and it has since become a selling point for the bar.

Vitucci said “it made sense” to enact the smoking ban earlier than the designated July timeframe. A similar policy introduced at another bar he owns, Whiskey Bar at 788 N. Jackson St., received positive feedback from a survey after the bar went smoke-free. The encouraging responses helped Vitucci make the decision to implement the no-smoking policy at Caffrey’s.

Many students who frequent Caffrey’s said they have seen improvements in the bar since smoking was banned.

Laura Nelson, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, called the smoking ban a “positive change.”

Nelson, who is allergic to the formaldehyde found in cigarette smoke, said she feels a non-smoking Caffrey’s offers a more comfortable setting. Nelson als0 said her friends think Caffrey’s choice to go smoke-free was a good business decision.

Anna Luberda, a senior in the College of Education, said that as a smoker, she doesn’t feel alienated by the ban. Luberda said she understands that many bar-goers appreciate not smelling like cigarettes, and the heated patio is a nice option for those who still wish to smoke.

But not everyone was initially sold on the benefits of the no-smoking policy.

Senior Sean Ivers, a smoker and frequent Caffrey’s patron, said he was initially upset by the ban.

But Ivers, a student in the College of Communication, said he was impressed with how clean Caffrey’s air was after the ban went into effect. Ivers said he even saw himself smoking “significantly less” because of the ban.

Although encouraged by Caffrey’s continued success under the smoke-free policy, Vitucci said Murphy’s will not follow suit until the statewide ban takes effect in July.