LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — A popular dive bar in Hillcrest went smoke free for a few hours on Nov. 8 to kick off a campaign for the city of Little Rock.
Smoke Free Little Rock took over Hillcrest Fountain to spread their message on making Little Rock a completely smoke-free city. The Fountain was a completely smoke-free bar for the first time ever for two hours.
Regulars to the Fountain like Steven Tkachuck did not mind the temporary policy, but hope the Fountain does not end up going completely smoke free.
"I feel it's inconsiderate smoking around people that don't want smoke but at the same time, I also enjoy being able to go to a place that I can smoke in,” Tkachuck said. "I'm used to going to places that you can't smoke in and step outside."
Fountain owner Daniel Bryant said making the bar go smoke free for a few hours is not permanent.
"I'm not ready to tell people that want to smoke that they can't,” Bryant said.
But Bryant wanted to host Smoke Free Little Rock because he does want people to be educated on the dangers of smoking.
“[I wanted to support the city] and try something different,” he said. “I don’t think that smoking is a good idea. I think people that smoke know that smoking is not a good idea.”
Smoke Free Little Rock's main is goal is to implement a policy so that every worker in the city has clean air to breathe. The campaign wants to protect all people against the dangers of second-hand smoke.
“it’s an opportunity to see that smoke-free is good for health and good for business,” Smoke Free Little Rock Coalition Chair Jennifer Knight said.
Mayor Mark Stodola agreed.
“This is really not about anti-smoking, it’s about our workers. It’s about public places and giving people to work in a smoke-free environment where second hand smoke is something they have to tolerate in order to have a job,” Stodola said.
But Bryant says workers usually know what they're getting into when they apply.
"Certainly, when it's smoking when you get here you have an expectation that you're going to be working in a smoking environment. So, it's about choice,” he said.
Knight said the smoke-free policy would still allow people to smoke outside like here on a deck or patio.
Knight also said going smoke-free would help increase business in Little Rock.
Bryant said he has found it does not really matter if a bar goes smoke-free or not.
“I went smoke-free in Kansas City at a bar that I had there and business went up. I went smoke-free at a bar that I have in Branson and business went down,” Bryant said.
While the campaign works to get the policy passed, businesses still have the option to go smoke-free if they choose.
“I feel like it's better to leave it up to the actual business owners. If every business owner wanted to go smoke-free, then I'd have no problem with that because it's their choice,” Tkachuck said.
Smoke free Little Rock is looking to pass the ordinance through the city Board of Directors.
Little Rock is one of 18 capital cities that is not smoke-free.