ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Coffee drinking smokers across the nation may have to take their drinks to go. Starbucks Coffee Company announced an outdoor smoking ban of 25 feet from the building's entrance effective this month.
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"Wish they could do it within 25 miles," said Randy Ballard, of Roswell.
The move has sparked the national battle between smokers and non-smokers and ignited the community's debate on smoking ethics.
Charles Mears, an Alpharetta businessman and smoker for nearly 13 years, said he agrees with the recent ban.
"I think people that smoke shouldn't annoy people that don't, I've always felt that," Mears said as he sat outside a Starbucks store off Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta. "Especially in a place where people are eating and drinking."
The new policy serves as an extension of the existing one, said Jaime Riley, spokeswoman for Starbucks, as the store already implements a smoking ban indoors.
"The intent of the policy is just to provide customers with a healthy environment in our outdoor seating areas," Riley said. "We will really focus on the property we own or lease, we're not going to try to infringe on other company's spaces."
Customers enjoy a drink outside of a Starbucks in Cumming, Ga. (click for larger version)
The 25 foot designation is not concrete, Riley said, because in some cases local ordinance can trump the company's policy depending on the city.
Starbuck's employees, or partners as they are called, will enforce the change by "kindly" asking customers in violation to put out their cigarettes or leave the non-smoking area, Riley said.
This has not seemed to stop some customers who are accustomed to their stimulated combo of coffee and cigarettes.
Two smokers outside a Starbucks in Alpharetta even ignored requests by staff.
"I think they're going to lose a lot of business," one said, as she puffed away on a Newport. "We've been coming less."