TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The owner of The Pocket in Twin Falls said they plan to go smoke free, after years of contemplation.
Owner Carl Wormsbaker said he's been thinking about turning their bar and pool hall to a nonsmoking establishment for the last six, seven years.
"When, I think, the city of Boise went no smoking and I know at first they struggled. A lot of places did because people can go to Garden City and smoke, but now, the bar’s doing good. They say they’re doing good," he explained.
He wants to widen his range to the younger generation, telling KMVT he thinks they might apply for a restaurant license as well.
"To be able to maybe give our kids, the younger generation something to do, instead of hanging out in the streets to do nothing," he said.
"Where they can come in and learn about the game of billiards. That’s one thing that I’m trying to do is maybe help our community by giving our kids something to do and look forward to."
He describes this decision as a "double-edged sword."
"I’m either going to do better, or I’m going to go down," he said, adding that many of his regulars are smokers. "I may lose everything. I could go out of business from having a no smoking in here, but then again, I might be able to build a different customer-base as well."
Wormsbaker said the upkeep of a business that allows smoking is a lot to maintain.
"Cigarette butts, the burns in the carpet, the burns on the cloth every time that happens, we have to recloth a pool table and it’s like $400 to get that done," he explained.
He said their ceiling recently caved in as well, having to redo it along with replacing the carpet and repainting the walls.
"We went with an epoxy paint so the smoke won’t absorb into your paint," he said.
For regular Tony Fairbanks, he thinks going smoke-free is a good idea, even as a smoker himself.
"Even though I'd have to go outside to do it, because there's a lot of people that come to the bar, don't come here because of the smoking," he said. "My wife is one. So, she wouldn’t have an excuse anymore."
However, for customer Larry Robinson, he said he would probably go elsewhere, as he likes to be able to smoke at an establishment while hanging out.
"Business is business. If he thinks it’ll bring him more business in here, that’s probably to his advantage," Robinson said.
Wormsbaker said many don't enjoy coming to the pool hall because of the smell of cigarette smoke.
"When I go home at night, you practically undress in the garage before you come into the house and the first thing you do is jump in the shower," he said. "I don’t even smoke, but I can guarantee that my lungs are as bad as someone that does smoke because of all the second-hand smoke."
Wormsbaker posted a poll on Facebook, asking the public if he should go smoke free. He said he's gotten quite a few responses.
"I just ask that kind of keep your comments to yourself, all it is, is a poll. I’m not putting it out there to get lashed at or get beat up on Facebook for it," he said.
While some can still vote, Wormsbaker said he plans to go smoke free after the Superbowl in February.
"I've set the date for the weekend after the Superbowl, so we’ll probably be closed for a couple of days, we’re going to do some cleaning. We’re going to have the carpets cleaned, we’re going to clean the ceilings," he explained.
He told KMVT he wanted to go smoke-free before the city changes their ordinance, if they do.
"That was my thing was to begin with. I didn’t want to do it until the city made me do it, but again, like anything, who wants to be told what to do? Why can’t you be your own person and just stand up and do it? Either you sink or you swim," he said.
Twin Falls City Manager Travis Rothweiler said they were approached by an organization, Smoke Free Idaho, proposing to make public businesses smoke-free.
While it currently is just talk right now, he said they will have a few meetings at the end of January and in February to listen to public concerns.
City Council will determine if they want to take action after that, Rothweiler said.