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Starbucks snuffing out smoking outdoors
A tall nonfat caramel macchiato with extra foam, please. Just hold the smoke.
Starting Monday, Starbucks customers are welcome to sit outside and sip a while — as long as they don't light up. The international coffee giant is extending its ban on indoor smoking to outdoor patios and dining areas in California.
The change was prompted by an increasing number of communities that have enacted smoking prohibitions in outdoor dining areas. Mid-Valley smokers say they are disappointed by the rule but understand its purpose.
Brian Roberts, 33, was enjoying a cigarette with his venti coffee Wednesday while reading a paperback at the Marysville Starbucks. He's not thrilled with the new rule, but said it was to be expected.
"It's nothing new in California," the Marysville resident said. "You go down to the East Bay and Pleasanton and you can't smoke anywhere outside."
But the rule might spur a slight decline in business, he said.
The patio is popular place to linger, as customers can consume caffeine and cigarettes while they read, chat or do business, he said. Cut off from their nicotine, they might not stick around to refuel.
"People have a right to breathe clean air," he said. "But we have a right to smoke, too."
Roberts hasn't yet decided if he's going to push the boundaries by keeping his lighting up at least 10 feet from the doorway, or just give in and abide. Either way, the rule will not impact his pack-a-day habit, or his Starbucks patronization, he said.
As a smoker, Andrea Navarrot, 48, tries to be respectful and keep her habit out of smell's reach. But the ban is probably a good idea for those that are not so courteous, she said.
"You walk out the door, who wants to smell smoke?" she said.
When a young woman lit up near Lori Lewis at Starbucks on Wednesday, she wasn't bothered with annoyance or temptation, but in seeing someone start the same path she did so long ago. She smoked for 30 years before quitting 10 months ago.
She leaned over to tell the woman about her experience and encouraged her to consider quitting.
"Smoke is so harmful to people," Lewis said. "They don't realize, and it's addicting."
Live Oak resident Courtney Williams works at the Togo's next door to the Starbucks on Colusa Avenue. She spends all her breaks at one of the tables outside the coffeeshop, stealing a quick smoke or two before she goes back to work.
Even though it means she'll need to find a new smoking spot, she doesn't mind the new rule, she said.
"I think businesses or any place anyone owns has the right to say no smoking," she said. "I don't believe I have the right to smoke anywhere."
With Mother Nature hinting this week at the summer weather to come, Yuba City residents Bill and Roberta Fox are looking forward to afternoons on Starbucks patios with good books and icy drinks.
They were relieved to learn the cigarette smoke that had marred previous experiences should no longer be a problem.
"A lot of times we have to get up and go home because she has asthma," Bill Fox said of his wife. "And I know people have their rights, but my mother died of second-hand smoke."