NEW HAVEN, Ind. (WANE) – One of the most vocal opponents of Fort Wayne’s smoking ban seven years ago has now changed his mind and will soon make his restaurant smoke-free.
The smoking ban put in place in 2007 only affects restaurants and bars in Fort Wayne’s city limits. Since Rack and Helen’s in New Haven is outside the city, smoking was still allowed there. However, owner, Wes Anderson, is personally changing his mind and banning smoking from his establishment. He said the decision is more about him being able to decide what goes on in his business instead of government telling him how to run his business.
“What we are for is a business owner’s choice,” Anderson said.
However, Councilman John Crawford, R- At Large, created the smoking ban bill seven years ago because he said that government should get involved when actions hurt people. Crawford also said Fort Wayne has the strictest non-smoking law in the state.
“Second hand smoke hurts another person, and that’s why I thought government had a role,” Crawford said.
Anderson said his decision was based solely on changing attitudes. He said, “Not so many years ago, we thought the best path was to allow smoking, now fast forward a few years down the road, we’re listening to our customers.”
The majority of Anderson’s customers overwhelmingly support the decision to ban smoking. He said the decision will hopefully attract new customers who wouldn’t even consider eating in the establishment because it was smoke-friendly. Back in 2007, Anderson said his family spent $70,000 on a ventilation system to help purify the air. However, some customers said they would still leave the bar with their clothes smelling like smoke. Anderson said it is possible he will lose business because of the change, but he said they do have some pretty loyal customers.
“Rack and Helen’s has an outstanding following, and you know your smokers, hopefully they can get by for half an hour, hour, however long they’re in here to eat dinner,” customer, Randy Humerickhouse said.
The restaurant will be going smoke-free on August 1st.