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Cigar Bar in Amherst One of Few Where Smoking Continues

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – No longer are bar and restaurant patrons allowed to light up cigarettes. A new smoking law went into effect Thursday as part of the state's Clean Indoor Air Act.

But at least one area business expects to benefit.

"I don't think there is any place in Western New York where you can have fine dining and enjoy a smoke," said co-owner Jerry Meyers of the Dakota Grill Restaurant and Cigar Bar in Amherst. Smoking is still allowed at the Cigar Bar. Meyers says it's excluded from the new smoking ban because it has been in existence prior to December 2002 when the indoor air act was signed.

"In order for it to be an accredited cigar bar by the state and County, you have to follow rigid criteria," Meyers said. "That would include separate liquor license, separate tobacco licenses and a certain amount of your sales have to come from tobacco."

Meyers says the bar is equipped with a special filtration system. And because the smoking ban is an effort to protect workers from second-hand smoke, Meyers says he can only hire people who agree to work in a smoke-filled workplace -- like waitress Dottie Cervola. But Cervola, who is a smoker, says she doesn't mind. She says customers will be able to dine in a smoke free-restaurant, while smokers will be allowed to light up at the bar.

"I am not boasting about smoking, but if you are addicted, that's what you like to do. It all comes with relaxation, and going out to dinner is relaxation," Cervola said. "You have a glass of wine, a cup of coffee and cigarette."

But while the Cigar Bar may reap the benefits of this new law, one Buffalo bar and restaurant owner is not sure how it will affect his business. Joe Jacobi, owner of Casa Di Pizza on Elmwood Avenue, says he will have to wait and see.

"I guess the real thing you have to look at it is the way the whole country is going right now," Jacobi said. "So I guess we follow the trends of every other state. At this point, I don't know if I should be angry or just take it in stride."

But Jacobi says maybe he will generate some new business from customers who avoided the smoke-filled bar in the past.