Aparna Narrain

Bangalore: For many people, an evening out involves going to a restaurant or pub and relaxing with friends, preferably with a glass of liquor and a cigarette in hand, while music plays in the background.

But, after the ban on smoking came into effect from October 2, it became obvious that relaxation would have to be attained minus the cigarettes. A little over two weeks, and it is evident that the ban has evoked mixed reactions from the people as well as owners of restaurants and pubs. Though most non-smokers have welcomed the ban, smokers are divided over the matter. With regard to business, some establishments claim that their business has not been affected, while others say it has.

K.N. Vasudeva Adiga, president of the Bangalore Hotels’ Association, says, “Thirty to 40 per cent of business has been affected, especially in bars and restaurants.”

Harinder Singh, General Manager, The Grand Ashok, says, “We have lost approximately 15 per cent business as smokers do not like going to restaurants if they cannot completely relax there.”

Sanjeev Kumar, Manager, Hard Rock Café, says, “There has been a 10 per cent drop in business after the ban came into effect. I think the law should be more relaxed.” He added that the management was looking into setting up a designated smoking area.

However, business has not been affected at establishments such as Pecos and Koshy’s. Elongoven, manager of Pecos, says, “There has been no change in business.” He adds, “My staff too are happy. They had to deal with passive smoking all this time.”

Prem Koshy, owner of Koshy’s, says, “People still stay here for long periods of time. That hasn’t changed.” On setting up a designated smoking area, he said, “It is not viable for me to set up a designated smoking area with all the specifications.”

Although regulars to these establishments say they will not stop going there, they feel that their sense of enjoyment has diminished.

Ravindra Nagaraj, IT professional, a regular at Pecos says, “I do not think that the frequency with which people visit these places will change. But, their sense of enjoyment may be reduced due to the ban.” However, Sudhir Sukumar, a copywriter in an advertising firm, says, “The ban is a good thing. They should ban cigarettes.” The ban will not affect his sense of enjoyment when he goes to a pub.

But, this ban has affected some people more than others. Women smokers especially are finding it difficult as not many of them are comfortable smoking outside.

Kavita Shivanand, creative consultant for an advertising firm, says, “I am finding it difficult after the ban was enforced. I am used to smoking inside pubs and restaurants. I do not feel comfortable standing on the road and smoking.”

The ban has also made it difficult for people who do not drink and only smoke. Beryl Timothy, who is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, says, “As someone who does not drink but only smokes, I feel that when I go to a restaurant or pub they are robbing me of my only vice.”