NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A musicians group is trying to pass legislation giving local governments control of smoking laws in order to have smoke-free bars and venues.
Musicians for a Smoke-Free Tennessee is bringing the legislation and trying to convince lawmakers it's a good idea. Their argument is bars and music venues are the only places without workplace protections against tobacco smoke.
"The main problem with it is that we as musicians and bar workers are essentially the only demographic of Tennesseans left that aren't protected by a safe and smoke-free workplace guarantee," said Jamie Kent, Chair of Musicians for a Smoke-Free Tennessee.
"If you think about it, just about every single other business in the state is smoke-free inside but bars and some music venues."
Kent went on to explain that many musicians are not as established as major artists and can't always pick and choose the venues in which they play.
"Working-class artists like myself who depend on playing three hours a night as many nights a week as we can, we need that money to pay rent, we need that money to put food on the table [and] we need that money to pay for kids school supplies," said Kent.
Some bars and venues have already signed onto the idea. One owner of The 5 Spot in East Nashville said he learned going smoke-free was good for business.
"Back in 2014, we actually made the transition from smoking to non-smoking, fully anticipating that there might be some blowback, a decrease in sales and we saw the exact opposite," said Travis Collinsworth. "I was tired of coming home every night and smelling like an ashtray."
Kent said he's approached many legislators who are in the committees which will soon hear the bill.