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Raleigh Nightclub Wants To Clear The Air With Smoke-Free Policy

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RALEIGH — In a big tobacco-producing state like North Carolina, it can be a risk to snuff out smokers. However, one Triangle business is breaking the habit.

On Friday night, Raleigh's newest nightclub opens downtown. It is called "The Office," but with its leather chairs and fiber optic lighting, the South West Street bar will take a chance on Tobacco Road with no smoking. The fog machine puffs out the only cloud visitors will see inside.

"Out west, all the clubs do it. It's fantastic," says manager Todd Chriscoe. "You come home. You don't smell like smoke. Your sinuses are clear. It's great."

A few blocks away, the management at the Warehouse casts doubt on their new competitor's smoke-free plan. The Warehouse uses an expensive ventilation system to clear the air. They believe that social drinking and smoking go hand in hand, and they try to accommodate everyone.

"I think they're going to have a hard time in the Raleigh area," says bartender Kevin Cummings. "If you're going to go out anywhere in North Carolina and you want to be around people, there's that tendency to have that happen."

Some people welcome the chance to party without going home smelling like smoke.

"I would much prefer going to an establishment where I could enjoy the music, but I wouldn't have to deal with the smoke," says non-smoker Jennifer Bailey.

Although it is a non-smoking facility, The Office will not be turning away smokers. Those who want to light up will be sent out in an enclosed patio, which has another bar. On cold nights, they will turn on the fire pits to keep smokers warm, but the owners hope ultimately, the non-smokers keep them in business.

The Office received its liquor license Wednesday. They do not serve food, so under state law, patrons must pay a membership fee to enter the non-smoking club.

A new law went into effect this year in California, stopping smokers from lighting up in bars, restaurants and taverns. Businesses that do not comply can be fined up to $700.

Minnesota tried to pass a similiar law and several cities along the east coast are considering banning cigarettes from bars.

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Cullen Browder, Reporter
Adrienne Traxinger, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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