This week, the Totem Bar joins the Wrangell Elks Lodge and Rayme’s Bar as a non-smoking establishment.
Aaron Powell is the owner of the Totem. He says he made the decision for a number of reasons, including health and cost.
“It’s kind of time to do it. Everywhere else in the world is doing it. A lot of it is maintenance on the building, painting and smoke eaters, the cost of filters. There’s a lot of cost involved in it that a lot of people don’t realize,” says Powell.
Powell says his bartenders are nonsmokers and they are happy about making the change to a smoke-free environment.
He says he’s not really worried about losing business because of the change. So far, he’s had positive feedback from customers, especially those who have moved to Wrangell from the lower 48.
“They’ve moved up here and said they’re used to it anyway. So, to them it’s not a big deal to step outside to have a cigarette really quick and then come back in,” says Powell.
Powell says he thinks it’s just time to make the change.
“Everywhere pretty much in the world is going smoke-free. Do we really want to be the last people to be forced into it? Or do we just want to do it and be done with it and not have to worry about it?” says Powell.
That leaves the Marine Bar as the last bar in town that plans to allow smoking inside. The Elks Lodge made the decision to go tobacco-free earlier this month. It’s not enforcing that rule immediately, but is taking time to make the conversion.
The Totem is officially smoke-free on Friday, March 14, 2014.