Pipe shop expects hit from smoke ban

Dan Hollander The Daily Illini Owner of JonÕs Pipe Shop Patrick Calagan enjoys smoking a pipe while at work at JonÕs Pipe Shop at 509 E Green in Champaign Wednesday afternoon, November 15, 2006. Along with Bacca Cigar shop, JonÕs Pipe Shop will be the only other indoor business in Champaign where smoking will be legal under the new smoking ban, a change that Calagan feels will severely hurt his business, especially in the winter months.

By Drake Baer

As the Champaign smoking ban approaches, city and campus businesses are preparing for potential fallout.

The ban, which was approved by the Champaign City Council earlier this year, prohibits smoking in public places including city and campus bars starting on Jan. 31.

Urbana’s restaurants became smoke-free on Aug. 1, but the city’s bars will make the transition on Jan. 1.

“I think the smoking ban will be devastating,” said Patrick Callaghan, the proprietor of Jon’s Pipe Shop. He purchased the pipe shop while enrolled at the University and became trained in tobacco blending in New York and the Dominican Republic.

Jon’s Pipe Shop keeps over 3,000 pipes, 60,000 cigars, and 357 different types of pipe tobacco, Callaghan said.

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He said he was concerned with where students would be able to smoke.

“If they can’t smoke in bars and they can’t smoke in residence halls, then where can the students smoke?” he asked.

Callaghan said that Jon’s is “probably in the top 10” of tobacconists in the United States.

When students come to college, they want to try different things, including different types of tobacco, Callaghan said.

“Voting-age people are supposed to make their own decisions,” Callaghan said.

The government should not make decisions for people in their private lives, he added.

“Our clientele are very educated. It’s not that they don’t understand the health risks with smoking,” Callaghan said. “The most creative people are risk takers.”

Customers become family quickly, said Jerry Moore, an employee at Jon’s.

“I had an alumnus from the University come back and tell me that they learned more in here than in some classrooms,” he said.

Jon’s Pipe Shop has a very loyal customer base, Callaghan said. The smoke shop is a place where anyone can walk in and have an interesting conversation, Callaghan said.

“You can walk in here with any sort of weird question, and there will probably be someone here that can answer it for you,” Callaghan said.

Jon’s has global clientele, due to visiting scholars to the University coming into the pipe shop.

“They’re amazed by our selection,” Callaghan said.

Pipe shops across the country have been forced out of business by smoking bans, but Jon’s will be particularly affected due to their campus location, he said.

“We have an exemption, being a smoke shop,” Callaghan said. He said other businesses that are frequently patronized by smokers, like the numerous campus and working-class bars, would also be greatly affected.

“You can’t smoke at work anymore, and so after work you want to stop by the bar for a smoke and a drink, and now you can’t do that.” Callaghan said.

“Most businesses operate on a small margin, and this ban is going to cut into that margin,” Callaghan said.

He said that there will probably be firings, because employees are always the first to go. This will cut into part-time jobs for students who want to tend bar or waitress.

It’s been a tradition for many years to have a smoke shop on campus, reaching back to some of the first universities in the Old World, Callaghan said.

The tobacco trade started in America, and so since the advent of the American university, there has been the American university’s smoke shop, he said.