Bar owner who led the charge vs smoke ban has a change of heart - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Bar owner who led the charge vs smoke ban has a change of heart

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Bar and restaurant owners fought tooth and nail against Iowa's smoking ban. The woman who led the local fight now says she's glad her bar kicked the habit.

"My choice would be not to have smoking," said Rhonda Capron on Tuesday.

It's an about-face from five-years ago, when bar owners around the region rallied at her bar, Rhonda's Speak Easy, to find a way to fight the smoking ban.

"I felt they were taking away my livelihood, customers' rights.  The government sticks their nose in our business when they shouldn't," pointed out Capron.

She still thinks the decision should be left up to bar owners, but, she sees the benefits the ban has brought to her bar.

"I don't go home smelling like an ash tray anymore.  The air is clean," Capron said.

Smokers say, "I think it's the best thing that ever happened," Bartender Sandra Butcher exclaimed,

"You know, they like it," added Capron.

Butcher is a longtime bartender, and a lifelong smoker.

"No smoking, go outside," she explained.

"They cut down on smoking too because they can't sit there and smoke one after another, they have to get up and go out," said Capron of the health benefits.

Even those who remain convinced that the government got in the way are breathing a bit easier.

"I think if there was a demand for non-smoking bars then that's what the owners would have done at the time.  You come home and you don't reek of smoke, so I have noticed I like that," said Rhonda's customer Lindsay Chapman.

Capron worried what the ban would do to business.  

Now, that Nebraska and South Dakota have similar bans, "It doesn't matter where you go now, you cannot smoke," Capron commented.

State statistics seem to indicate more bar owners are complying with the law.  The Smoke Free Air Act took effect in July of 2008.

There were 52 complaints in the first year and a half at Sioux City's bars.  There have been only five complaints since.

The smoke has cleared at Rhonda's, and for Capron, her reasons to rally against the ban now seem, a little hazy.

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