The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Racy’s gets exemption from non-smoking law

Breathe in the air at Racy D’Lene’s Very Coffee Lounge, 404 Riverside Ave., and you’ll notice something that’s back – smoking.

Racy’s received a one-year exemption to the law prohibiting smoking in all restaurants in the city, said Peggy Loken, a Health Department environmental health specialist .

The original law was passed in May 2000 by the Eau Claire City Council. It allows restaurants to be exempt from the ban for one year if it proves it has lost more than 15 percent of its business in the first six months of the ban. Racy’s lost 22 percent since it went smoke-free, said manager Jayne Blodgett.

Unless there are changes in the ordinance or in the way Racy’s does business, it will have to return to no smoking after the 12-month period, Loken said.

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Racy’s tried advertising more to compensate for lost business, but that didn’t accomplish much, Blodgett said.

“Mostly we just lost the smokers,” she said.

The effects of the exemption are being felt already. Business is up for the coffee shop because many of the regulars are returning, Blodgett said.

Regulars like Brad Calli, a 1997 UW-Eau Claire graduate, stopped going to Racy’s specifically because of the smoking issue. Part of the enjoyment of going is to have a cup of coffee with a cigarette, said Calli. Blodgett said, “(This is) local government telling you this is how you have to run your business.”

It’s better for restaurants to have separate smoking sections rather than banning it altogether, junior Monica Raymond said.

Louise Woletz, a self-described regular of the coffee shop, said it deserves to be exempt because its business is based so much on smokers.

Woletz, a smoker, said she didn’t stop going to the coffee shop but knows many who did because they couldn’t smoke.

“It makes everybody (who smokes) go outside, nobody really cuts down,” she said.

Calli also disagreed with the ban. “It’s ridiculous that seven people legislate that you can’t smoke anywhere,” Calli said.

Everyone knew it wasn’t Racy’s decision to go smoke-free, so some still supported it, Raymond said.

The exemption allows the regulars to enjoy the coffee shop as it originally was, she said.

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Racy’s gets exemption from non-smoking law