Carrie Rengers

Business group will fight state's smoking ban

More than 50 business owners and other people concerned about the state's new indoor smoking ban met Thursday for the first meeting of Kansas Right to Choose .

"Everybody's upset," says Ali Issa , who hosted the meeting at his Heat Cigar & Hookah Lounge .

The group is trying to organize a public meeting for next week for other business owners "and also people who do not smoke but don't like the idea of the state telling you what to do," Issa says.

He says people from around the state are joining the group (check it out at www.kansasright tochoose.com).

Issa says the goal is to get as many members as possible to barrage legislators with calls and e-mails voicing their opposition to the ban, which takes effect in most places July 1.

Rep. Brenda Landwehr , R-Wichita, is one of the people who attended the inaugural meeting.

She's already working to make changes to the new law.

One change would permit bars that have lottery and keno tickets and also have less than 30 percent of gross sales coming from food to allow smoking.

"So that makes them on the level playing field of the casino bars," Landwehr says.

Other changes include giving businesses a chance to become private clubs. The current law states a business had to apply to be a private club by Jan. 1, 2009.

Also, it would change the law that requires smoking to take place at least 10 feet from a vent, window or door to 3 feet.

"It's not an illegal substance," Landwehr says of tobacco.

Like Issa, she points to the nonsmokers who are concerned about the law.

"So they take the smoking away, what's the next thing?"

Landwehr is particularly concerned about businesses.

"We've got a state that says it needs more revenue, but we're going to be putting folks out of business. I mean, that makes no sense at all," she says.

"I just think it's unfair treatment of business owners."

Her own place

Almost a year ago, Pamela Pletcher started W.O.W. Cakes , which stands for World of Wedding Cakes , online.

Now, she's opening a storefront next to DeFazio's near 27th and Amidon.

Pletcher says it's all thanks to her online business.

"It has 100 percent financed me moving into my building," she says. "I haven't taken out any loans or anything."

Pletcher says she quickly outgrew her house, where she'd been making cakes.

"It wasn't very long before I started adding extra refrigerators," she says. "I couldn't keep up with the demand."

She already has 130 wedding cakes sold for 2010, with more coming every week.

"My phone just does not stop ringing," Pletcher says. "It's fabulous."

She's already talked with her landlord, Pete DeFazio , about possibly expanding into the space next to hers when the video store that's there leaves next year.

"We can just cut a hole through the wall," Pletcher says.

Her grand opening is April 11.

"I don't owe anybody any money, and I have my own shop. I'm thrilled."

You don't say

"Thanks to our Day Sponsor, Greteman Group , which turns 21 today. Old enough to know better. Young enough to try it anyway."

—A promo that ran Thursday on KMUW , 89.1-FM , to thank the advertising agency for supporting the station

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