Smokers looking to enjoy a cigarette with their pancakes have to pay attention when they eat.
The International House of Pancakes, 51 Conley Road, implemented new smoking hours in November. The entire restaurant is smoke-free from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays. These designated smoke-free times are exclusive to this particular IHOP.
Owner Chris Kennon said there was a long line of customers waiting for nonsmoking seating on the weekends while the smoking section was only half full. He said by providing an entirely smoke-free restaurant, the majority of customer needs can be met quickly. Kennon said his decisions about the availability of smoking sections are based on customer needs.
“Late at night, we often expand the smoking section into the back seating area to accommodate the larger demand at those times,” he said.
Kennon said there have been few complaints about the new smoking policy, just as there have been few complaints about smoke during other business hours.
An article from the American Lung Association in November 2003 said workplaces across the nation are becoming smoke-free to provide clean indoor air and protect employees from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. The same article said a Gallup Poll reported that 95 percent of Americans — smokers and non-smokers — think companies should either ban smoking or restrict smoking to separately ventilated areas.
IHOP provides both. Besides the smoke-free hours, the restaurant restricts smoking to a room enclosed by windows and French doors.
“We rarely, if ever, get a complaint because the smoke is contained in a separate room with its own exhaust fan,” Kennon said.
A survey by the Boone County Coalition for Tobacco Concerns reported that about one-third of Columbia businesses are smoke-free. The coalition is planning to bring an ordinance before the City Council later this year that would further restrict smoking in public places.
Kennon said if Columbia enacted a smoking ban for restaurants, IHOP would cooperate, but he said businesses should make those type of decisions based on customer needs.