No Smoking Ban Popular in Machesney Park

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

Fadil Mehmedi has been in the restaurant business for nearly two decades and says it's his flexibility that's kept him around. Coyote Bar in Machesney Park is his newest venture and he hopes a three-thousand dollar ventilation system will attract a smoke-free crowd.

"We've been open almost two months and we haven't heard nobody in the non-smoking section complaining about being smokey or even smelling smokey," Mehmedi says.

But Mehmedi's efforts may go to waste. 61-percent of Harlem Township voters say they want Machesney Park businesses to go non-smoking. But since the referendum applies just to Machesney Park, the Winnebago County Elections Board has to eliminate votes taken from Roscoe and Loves Park.

"When people realize it's not a health issue it's an economic and development issue, then I think it will change people's minds," says Machesney Park Mayor Linda Vaughn.

A hopeful realization for some business owners.

"Being passed that smoking ban in a bar I am assured it will effect our business drastically and who knows if we'll be able to survive," Mehmedi says.

Smoking ban advocates say that's just a lame excuse for bad business.

"If their gonna shut down cause of this issue they probably shouldn't be in business to start with if their promoting a product that's killing people why should you be allowed to be in business," says Harlem Township Supervisor Doug Aurand.

Mehmedi says if smoking became a problem for his customers, he'd consider building two separate entrances and even a wall dividing the sections. All efforts to keep the law from extinguishing his business.

The Machesney Park Public Safety Health and Welfare Committee will further discuss the advisory referendum results on November 27th.

They hope to have the village board vote on it before the end of the year. It could go into effect sometime in July 2007.


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