(WMC-TV) – Olive Branch said 'No' to smoking in restaurants exactly one year ago. How has the smoking ban affected the city since it went into effect?
Now that the smoking and non-smoking divide is gone, restaurant owners, workers, and even smokers say it is bringing the city together to promote a healthier lifestyle.
A sign on the doors of local businesses serve as a reminder to smokers that they are welcome inside, but their cigarettes are not.
Elisa Archer at the Huddle House said it has been a good thing for both diners and the restaurant.
"The year of the smoking ban has been really good we like the family thing so in order to keep the family you have to keep the smoking down because it's not good for the kids," said Archer.
Across the street at Sweet Pea's Table, owner Teresa Hughes said her family never even considered making a smoking section part of their dining experience.
"We've been non-smoking from the very beginning," she said. "There were several reasons why we decided to open that way. One is because our family's been affected by smoking-related illnesses, the other one is just supporting a healthier lifestyle."
While some owners like Hughes had no problem banning smoking from their establishments, others did not want to be the bad guy.
"It's difficult for a restaurant operator to be the one to say, 'No,' so they wanted government to say that for them. For the most part, restaurant owners are happy the public's happy," said Olive Branch Mayor Sam Rikard.
Back at Huddle House, Archer is a smoker and said she and others have had no problem adjusting to the ordinance.
"People will have to get used to it. Now we keep an ashtray on the far corner of the building and people will go take their coffee and go outside and smoke, it's not a problem at all," Archer explained.
Restaurant owners say they are able to serve more customers because smokers are no longer able to keep smoking at their table after their meal.