Smoking Laws and Private Clubs

Since the smoking laws have been put in place in New York City and other major cities, can an establish turn their bar or restaurant into a private club (like the bars in Utah) and allow smoking in them? My understanding is that it is to protect the employees. If the employees are working for a private club, are they still protected? Can they waive their right to be protected?

A year ago this month, a city smoking ordinance was passed by a unanimous vote by the city council (not by a popular vote) that prohibited smoking in all buildings to which there was public access. This includes restaurants, private clubs, free-standing bars and…get this…outdoor patios adjacent to these businesses. Other businesses were affected by this ordinance: retail stores, ofcourse. (Then there is actually ink wasted in the ordinance to include doctor/dentist offices and hospitals. When is the last time anyone was allowed to smoke in these places? 1985? But that’s a whole different discussion…)

I guess the “public access” to private clubs would be when the clubs hold dances and whatnot to which the public is invited.

The way our ordinance is worded (and the way it was voted into existence), there are no loopholes.

Those who were in favor of the ordinance went around town gleefully affixing stickers to every single front door of every single business and building the day the ordinance went into effect.

As I’m sure you know, there is no single answer to this question. It’s going to depend entirely on how the non-smoking ordinance is written for each city/county/state and whether or not exceptions are allowed.

BTW, since you mentioned Utah and private clubs, you should know that there is currently a move in the legislature to extend the smoking ban to include private clubs as well.

I’m a non-smoker. Can’t stand the smell. However, even I say this is ridiculous.

In Georgia, the new anti-smoking laws forbid smoking in any establishment where children could be allowed to enter. If a restaurant/bar/club wants to offer a smoking area, that area must have it’s own air circulation system.

My understanding is that most of the anti-smoking regulations are based on the health of the employees of the business/restaurant/bar/etc.

I would think that there is no reason why the law for the benefit of the employees of a bar would be applied any differently to those employed by a private club.

Of course, it depends on exactly how the law is drafted.

Or… not allow children to come in, right? I mean, it’s a bar!

Depends on the bar, I guess. I don’t frequent bars, so I don’t know where there’d be an example where a child would be allowed in.

California has had a no smoking law covering bars for quite some time. I know of one establishment in SF that gets around the law by being owner operated. It’s a small bar without any employees, run solely but the two guys who own it.

I lived in California when the law began, and that was the only loophole. If you were the owner, and had no employees, you could allow smoking in your bar. Of course, very few bars fit into that category, but those who did suddenly saw business increase dramatically. I have forgotten the name of the place, but there was a small bar in the Hollywood/Silverlake area that suddenly became very hip to go to, simply because two guys owned it, were the sole employees and they both smoked, so the patrons could as well.

I have to agree though. If a bar is called, “the smoker’s bar” and the employees are all smokers, I do not see why this should be illegal. Almost to the letter, every non-smoker I knew who complained they never went to bars because they were too smoky, still never go to bars despite the fact that nobody smokes in them anymore. I will end this tangent as this is general questions and not great debates.

I think the idea of a private club smoking bar should be something an attorney would have to look into, to see exactly what the statutes are, and if there are any other loopholes.