Restaurants and Bars Struggling With Smoking Ban

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Nevada's Clean Indoor Air Act has been a law for just a year, but it's already creating more than its share of controversey.

The law bans smoking in just about all public places that serve food, except for casinos. But smokers say it goes too far and restaurant and bar owners say it's ruining their business

"We do have some people coming in," says Parker Mills, bar manager at Famous Murphy's of Reno on South Virginia Street. "But it's not like it used to be."

Profits from the slot machines that used to rake in money from the bar have dropped 65 percent since Nevada voted to ban smoking in restaurants and bars with kitchens.

The slumping revenue is forcing mills to make some very costly changes.

"If people aren't coming into gamble, you have to raise the prices," says Mills. "And instead of having five dollar chicken wings, they're now 11 bucks."

A lot of non-smokers are saying that's too bad; and some, like former smoker Carol Mayberry want the act expanded even further.

"I think it's important for them to stay in their cars or house and away from public places."

Some bars are taking the controversial issue into their own hands. Rollin Lazzarone bought Scruples from Mills, six years ago. He's since transformed the compelx into two with smoking and one without it.

"Even some of our customers who go to the non-smoking bar want to have a glass of wine and maybe a cigarette after dinner," says Lazzarone. "At least they have that option."

Lazzerone says he's still seen a big economic impact on business, despite the remodeling. And Mills says the promise of an increase in non-smoking customers is a dream that simply hasn't come true.

"They haven't showed up in place of the smoking gamblers who disappeared."