‘Little pioneerette’ helped pass state smoking ban

‘Little pioneerette’ helped pass state smoking ban

QUINN DAVIS

Staff Writer

Alcohol is a poison. So is cigarette smoke. And on May 1, Michigan became the 38th state to allow one of these two toxins in its bars—and ban the other. “When you go out to a bar, you drink, but you’re affecting your own personal body,” said Jennifer Krajcovic, a special education teacher in Ypsilanti. “But it’s like, somebody lights up a cigarette, you’re getting second-hand smoke from that. You’re being affected.” On May 1, Krajcovic joined her friend Kelly Vaughn for the Ann Arbor Smokefree Bar Hop, an event Vaughn helped create to celebrate the smoking ban that went into effect that day. Vaughn, the player family coordinator and operations assistant for University of Michigan football, said that working toward a smoking ban was like a part-time job for her. “I started a Facebook group called ‘Support the Smoking Ban in Michigan.’ The American Cancer Society actually saw my group and contacted me saying, ‘Hey, do you want to volunteer for us?’” Vaughn said. Through her fight for smoke-free Michigan bars, Vaughn did volunteer for the ACS, and also volunteered for state legislators while spreading word through her Facebook page. “There was a day we sent out an action alert saying, ‘Contact Andy Dillon,’” Vaught said of Michigan’s Speaker of the House and Democratic gubernatorial candidate. “We shut down his phone line that, many people were calling.” While some worry that the smoking ban might hurt local businesses, Vaughn cites her hospitality business friends as one of her main motivations. She told a story of a friend who worked in a bar as a waitress. “She was trying to get through grad school, and she and her husband finally got pregnant,” Vaughn said. “She couldn’t find another job. She worked nine months of pregnancy in a smoky bar. She had no other option! What’s she going to do? Have no job?” It’s obvious that Krajcovic is proud of Vaughn’s efforts. She called her “my little pioneerette” and described the T-shirts they made for the event in detail. They copied the “I love NY” shirts, replacing “NY” with a no-smoking sign. About 35 people came to the pub crawl, and many more showed their thanks to Vaughn during and even after the excursion. “When I posted the pictures of the bar crawl on Facebook, a friend of mine saw them that works double shifts all the time as a waitress at a bar. She was like, ‘Kelly, I worked the best weekend of my life this weekend. Thank you for sticking it out for me.’ That makes it so worth it,” Vaughn said. The group met its fair share of people disappointed with the legislation, too. At one stop in the crawl, an employee of the bar chalked Vaughn’s efforts up to socialist reform. Whether the employee was a smoker or not, Krajcovic had little sympathy. “I mean, how difficult is it? You step outside and have a cigarette if you want one. I don’t care if it’s the dead of winter,” she said. One local business that faced a unique challenge was Rendez Vous Café, an eatery and hookah bar on South University. Due to the smoking ban, the restaurant became more like two different businesses on May 1. “We put the door up like two weeks ago, and it’s like two separate places now. So everything we make has to be in a to-go box if it’s for upstairs,” said employee Carly Adams. Despite the problems many predicted, Rendez Vous Café has had a fairly easy transition, Adams said. Many patrons came by to make sure they would still offer hookah after the ban went into effect. “Maybe it’s had an impact that I haven’t seen, but I don’t know yet,” she said. “So far it’s been good. We still have people coming in and asking for hookahs.” Vaughn believes that smoking in bars and eateries will seem ludicrous in years to come. Just like some other historical changes, she thinks individuals will look back at the ban and be astonished at how long it took to make it through legislation. “We used to be able to smoke in an airplane or in the movie theater,” she said. “I mean, come on. Twenty years from now, they’re going to look back at us and say, ‘I can’t believe you could smoke in a restaurant.’”

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