Consumer Trends

No smoke, but fire for sure

It had been just a bad memory: Smokers raising hell in restaurants that dared to curb their vice, and the health-minded leaning hard on operators to snuff out second-hand smoke. Now the tug-of-war is back on, a result of the rise in e-cigarette use, and restaurateurs are once again serving as the rope.

The point of contention this time: whether there’s even any actual smoking. E-cigarettes are mini vaporizers that deliver nicotine in an airy stream that only looks like smoke, and often is scented to smell much different. All that’s emitted is what’s exhaled, and it’s more like cold steam.

Still, that hasn’t stopped smoking opponents from getting riled. In addition to patrons who don’t appreciate banana or chocolate-scented vapor wafting over from the next table, objectors include groups such as Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Lung Association.

Restaurateurs themselves are undecided about what to do. Requests to several dozen for their e-cig policies brought no responses. Smokey Bones and Pat O’Brien’s stressed that it’s something they haven’t done—yet. 

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