JLF Triangle Blog

Bar Owner On State Smoking Ban: “It’s only a matter of time before we go under.”

Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro continues to speak out against the state’s ban on smoking in most bars and restaurants. Despite losing his legal challenge of the ban, Don Liebes, owner of the club and president of the N.C. Bar, Pub & Tavern Association, told the Daily Tar Heel that since the ban took effect in 2010, sales are down a whopping 25 percent.

“We’re different from restaurants,” he said, adding that 75 percent of his customers smoke. “The ban put us at a competitive disadvantage.”

Because of the ban, the club has lost $30,000 since January, Liebes said. On an average Friday night, the club now serves 30 fewer customers — about a 15 percent decrease.

“We’re not making any money,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time before we go under.”


But does the most liberal state senator in North Carolina – and a key backer of the ban – care about the law’s negative impact? No.

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange and a member of the N.C. Senate Health Care Committee, said people primarily go to bars to congregate, so she doesn’t think bars lose business.

“That’s a spurious argument,” she said, adding that the ban is unlikely to be repealed due to its economic benefits.

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