Smoking Ban — without Government

A Washington Post Food column notes that going smoke-free pays off for restaurants. Which raises again the question of why we need a one-size-fits-all government ban, when customers are fully capable of sending signals to entrepreneurs.

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE, THERE ARE SEATS FREE: Being the businessman that he is, restaurateur Tony Stafford doesn’t like the sight of vacant tables in his sprawling Bonefish Grill (6315 Multiplex Dr., Centreville; 703-815-7427). Yet plenty of booths in the chain seafood restaurant’s 50-seat bar routinely go unused when customers notice cigarette smoke there. “They turn down immediate seating,” sometimes waiting an hour or longer for a table in the dining room, the managing partner reports. As a result, the establishment is going smoke-free Nov. 1. With winter on the horizon, and hoping to retain regulars who smoke, “I’ve promised to buy them a heater for the patio outside.”