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Smoking Ban Hurting Bars, Helping Clubs?

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

Some people say it's too early to feel the impact of Madison's smoking ban. Others say it looks like it will burn a hole in their bottom line.
"Every morning, I open the bar, I have to sweep out there," Wiggie's bartender Kristi Gilmore says.
No butts about it ... People only smoke outside Wiggie's in Madison.
"I can't tell you how many cigarette butts and packages that we've swept up," Gilmore says.
Inside, Gilmore says Madison's smoking ban has filtered out customers.
"It's bad for us bartenders. I have two children. This is my only job and I'm definitely feeling it," she says.
She says the ban has cut customers by 50 percent.
"Normally we have two bartenders on Saturday. Now we're down to one on Saturday."
Half the bartenders ... not one matchbook or ash tray on the bar.
"People. The main thing is the people," Gilmore says.
People like Linda Tofte ...
Tofte says, "We go down there occasionally yeah, but we haven't been down there since."
Wiggie's staff fear customers have gone to bars outside city limits, like the Eagle Crest Bar. Staff there report a modest increase in customers.
Smoker Kathy Harris chose Eagle Crest over her usual spots in Madison.
"I like to have a cigarette when I'm having a beer and lunch," Harris says.
But has the ban caused people to pour into private clubs?
The Elks say not yet.
"We certainly would love to see an increase ... anybody would," bar and dining room manager Julie Clerkin says.
Non-profit, tax-exempt clubs like the Elks Lodge are exempt from the smoking ban.
An Elks manager says some people praise the ban, but it has caused some members to opt for the Lodge instead of another favorite hangout.
"They said they won't go there ... come here," Clerkin says.
Another private club ... the Grieg Club says it has gained members recently but could not say whether that's due to the ban.
The Madison Club and Labor Temple report no increase in membership ffrom the ban.


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