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THE VORTEX SMOKING SURVEY

According to the current smoking policy at The Vortex, customers are allowed to smoke cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) when seated at the BAR only. Smoking is not permitted anywhere else on the premises. If you have an opinion on this policy now is the time to let your voice be heard. You can CLICK HERE to complete a seven-question survey on the topic. This survey will remain active throughout the entire month of January. Once we have had ample time to compile and review the results, we will report our findings, and any decisions that we’ve made in a follow-up blog that will be posted here sometime in February. Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts. And just for the record, below is a brief history of the various smoking policies The Vortex has applied over the years.

When we first opened back in 1992, approximately 27% of adults in the U.S. were smokers according to the CDC. Based on my personal observations, I’d estimate that at least 75% of our patrons smoked at the time because the two levels of our tiny little bar were often so dense with cigarette smoke, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. And even the non-smokers would light-up once they got a little hooch into their systems. In those days, there were no smoking ordinances pertaining to bars, and since The Vortex was a secret hideout designed for people who wanted to be a little bit bad, we obviously allowed smoking.

A year or so later, we received a visit from a code enforcement officer. He came in to notify us that the Atlanta City Council had passed an ordinance that required all bars serving food to designate at least 50% of their seating as “Non-Smoking.” Since our bar was so small, we asked him to recommend which seats he thought would magically be protected from smoke by posting a sign. He replied, “It doesn’t make any difference to me, as long as it’s half the seats in here.” Due to the fact that the actual “bar” was located on the first floor, and everyone who sat at the bar smoked in those days, we decided to assign the upstairs loft as our non-smoking area. Sure, all the cigarette smoke would eventually rise up into that space, but we had met our legal obligations. This is a good example of how government attempts at social engineering often work-out in the end.

In 1996 we opened The Vortex in Little 5 Points, and in 1997 we relocated our Midtown venue to a bigger space on Peachtree Street. We continued to comply with the 50% non-smoking mandate in both locations until the state passed the Georgia Smoke-Free Air Act of 2005. That law required restaurants and bars to be 100% non-smoking unless they did not allow minors on their premises. So the government had forced us to make a decision – ban smoking, or ban children. Up until that point, we allowed parents to decide if they wanted to bring their kids to our bar. But since The Vortex was indeed a bar, saying goodbye to the youngsters was not a difficult call for us to make. And while our fans enjoyed the fact that they could still smoke in our bar, they really seemed to appreciate the new “adults-only” environment even more. So for us, the age restriction ended up being the more popular result of that particular legislation.

Nowadays, because of health and lifestyle changes, along with legislation like the Smoke-Free Air Act, smokers seem to have gradually adjusted their habits as to where and when they smoke. Recently, as I was entering The Vortex in midtown during a severe thunderstorm, I happened to notice a woman huddled underneath the umbrella of a patio table, smoking a cigarette. I informed her that she was welcome to smoke at the bar inside and she replied, “Oh, I know. But I don’t want to be a bother to anyone.” This got me thinking. If smokers are now this reluctant to smoke where they are legally permitted to do so, it just might be time to reassess our smoking policy. And now here we are. So help us out. Take the survey.

33 thoughts on “THE VORTEX SMOKING SURVEY”

  1. Leave it the way it is. Sometimes things are better left unchanged. The rest of the world has it their way. There should at least be one spot for the rest. I’m not even a smoker. I just enjoy the no kids policy.

    1. Charles,
      We are simply concerned that our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. One thing that is becoming clear through this survey is that a majority of our clientele really appreciate our “No Kids” policy. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  2. I don’t even smoke, but I love the fact that people can still enjoy a smoke at the dinner table. Restricting freedom is NEVER a good thing. I love the vortex, just the way it is ❤️🤘

    1. Nick,
      We’re happy to hear that you love The Vortex unconditionally. To clarify, our current smoking policy allows patrons to smoke at the bar only, not at dining tables. And this survey is about the smoking policy of our private business, not about any government restriction. Pleasing the majority of our patrons is always our goal. Our concern is that our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  3. Leave the smoking policy the way it is. I have been enjoying the adult atmosphere at the L5P location for about 10 years, and would hate to see it change; even though I am no longer a smoker myself.

    1. Thomas,
      We are simply concerned that our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. One thing that is becoming clear through this survey is that a majority of our clientele really appreciate our “Adults Only” atmosphere. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  4. Leave it as it is. I am a former smoker and it does not bother me to be in a smoking establishment at least it is a child free zone.

    It should be a personal choice whether you want to bring your children into a smoking establishment NOT the government’s. The government is far too involved in our lives as it is.

    1. Mike,
      The Vortex was conceived as a place where consenting adults can go to indulge in vices. Like you, we also believe that personal risk assessment is best left to the individual and not to the state. But we are now concerned that our current smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. This is a business decision. One thing that is becoming clear through this survey is that a majority of our clientele really appreciate our “21 and over” policy. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  5. I’m in favor of no smoking at all at The Vortex. Your food is fantastic, but The Vortex smells like a dirty ashtray!

    1. Melanie,
      Thank you for the compliment on our food. We might disagree that “The Vortex smells like a dirty ashtray,” but certainly understand that your clothing may acquire a smokey smell if you should happen to patronize when many customers are smoking. We also believe our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  6. Let people smoke. I’m not a smoker, but I support smoker’s rights, because the world is becoming so pansy-ass these days. If you are too damn wimpy to handle a bar where people smoke cigarettes, go to Applebees in Alpharetta.

    1. And why are the rights of non-smokers any less important? If people want to smoke, go for it – just don’t do it in a room just a few feet away, where I am forced to participate.

    2. Jeff & Christine,
      This is not about smoker’s right vs. non-smoker’s rights. The particular freedom we are discussing here is a business owner’s right to offer whatever goods, services or activities are determined to be of interest to their chosen target market. Potential customers are then free to choose which businesses they will support based on those offerings. No one is “forced” to do anything. Our concern is that our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. Thank you both for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  7. My husband and I were regulars at the Peachtree Street location and semi-regular at L5P until I was diagnosed with asthma in 2010. Now we don’t go anymore because I can’t.

    1. Carol,
      Thank you for taking our online Smoking Policy Survey. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made. Sorry to hear about your asthma.

    1. Beth,
      Thank you for taking our online Smoking Policy Survey. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  8. I’m not a smoker, but hey, it’s a bar. People are drinking booze and eating fatty foods too. There should be places where consenting adults can indulge in vices. If it gets too smokey for me, I’ll move.
    My only concern for places that allow smoking are the waitstaff who have to be in and out of the smoke filled areas as part of their jobs. If they don’t mind working around smoke, then I’m all for it.

    1. Joseph,
      The Vortex was conceived as a place where consenting adults can go to indulge in vices. Our smoking policy has always been clearly posted on our website (for potential customers), and described fully within company training materials (for potential employees). In fact, applicants are informed of the policy during the application process so that they can decide for themselves whether or not a job at The Vortex would be a good fit for them. We now believe our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans (and any employees who wish to participate) using this online survey. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  9. I worked for you during the 2005 change. As a non smoking employee, I often came home sick and hoarse from all the smoke. “Get a different job if you don’t like it” I did. Not everyone has that option and you probably don’t want to lose good employees just because they want a healthier work environment. I’d say consider changing it for the sake of your staff.

    1. Lizzy,
      Just to be clear, our smoking policy did not change in 2005, our age requirements did. Our smoking policy has always been clearly posted on our website, and described fully within company training materials. As you know, applicants are informed of the policy during the application process so that they can decide for themselves if a job at The Vortex would be a good fit for them. Historically, a large majority of our employees have been smokers. This trend seems to be changing. We now believe our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans (and any employees who wish to participate) using this online survey. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  10. We stopped going to the Vortex for exactly this reason. The “we are a smoking bar, if you don’t like it leave” attitude got old quickly, so we left.

    1. Chris,
      All of our policies are clearly posted on our website for the explicit purpose of allowing potential customers to decide for themselves whether or not they would like to patronize our business. No hard feelings. Freedom of choice is a wonderful thing, and should always be appreciated. We now believe our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  11. I have been coming to the L5P Vortex for going on 10+ years now, and the ONE thing I have always ***HATED*** was that people could smoke inside. I am severely sensitive to cigarette smoke (instantly become nauseated, throat gets tight, etc) and it has absolutely ruined my visit/meal because someone nearby lit up. As I have gotten older, it has only gotten worse, and thus my visits have become far fewer. The Vortex is the ONLY “smoking permitted” bar that I will even consider going to anymore. There’s only so much my love of a venue (which is much more like a restaurant than a bar, if we’re being honest here) and its food can stretch to make rolling dice every time I go if someone will light up during my meal.

    On most occasions when my dice roll was unlucky and someone lit up, I have gotten up from my seat and discreetly and politely addressed the smoker, asking them if they would mind either going outside or waiting until they left to smoke because of how badly it affected me. I explained that I knew I was in a bar that allowed smoking, so they weren’t doing anything wrong, and I just hoped that they would consider the effect their smoke had on other people. Each time, I have been fortunate that the stranger I was talking to was a nice person and either put their cigarette out immediately, or stepped outside, and I have thanked them profusely each time. However, I’m sure that this will not be the outcome every time I do it, nor do I think I should have to do it.

    I really couldn’t care less what a consenting adult decides to do with their own body, but smoking is one of the few things that breeches MY right to body autonomy, as I have to breathe the air the smoker is polluting. If someone does not smoke, no one is affected in any way. However, if someone does smoke, EVERYONE at the restaurant is forced to participate with them in their smoking, and I believe that is wrong on an ethical level.

    I am 1,000,000% in favor of changing the policy to a No Smoking one. If it does change, my visits will become much more frequent again, and without the anxiety of not knowing if my $75+ meal will get completely ruined or not.

    1. Christine,
      Thank you for patronizing The Vortex even though you “hate” our smoking policy. And it’s nice to hear that our patrons are generally considerate when you ask them not to smoke near you. It has always been one of our main goals to attract a clientele that come together to enjoy The Vortex experience, and treat others with respect. We believe our current smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are now reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. The results of this survey seem to be indicating that many of our fans, like you, patronize The Vortex in spite of our smoking policy, not because of it. So, thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  12. Non smoker here. However I say leave it as it is. It doesn’t bother me one bit. The location in L5P is always my #1 stop when going downtown for anything! I wish they still allowed smoking at bars and restaurants everywhere. It keeps the kiddos away for adult shenanigans. Nothing against kids, they just don’t belong at the bar.

    1. Chris,
      Thank you for being a loyal patron. As you know, The Vortex was conceived as a place where consenting adults can go to indulge in vices, and to clarify, “health” has never been a consideration. Our goal is to determine how to please our core clientele. Many people have expressed support for our “Kid-Free” atmosphere through this survey (even though it is technically about our smoking policy). So, thanks for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  13. I understand that it is a bar and grill. However, it seems as if you would want all of your customers to enjoy The Vortex experience. What about first time customers that aren’t aware of the smoking policy?

    1. Ms. D,
      All of our policies are clearly posted on our website. We recommend that people do their research before visiting to avoid any inconvenience. We now believe that our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. Our goal is determine how to best please our core clientele. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  14. I was visiting from out of town and really wanted to go to the Vortex but we’re not able to go because I had my teen children with me and they were not allowed in. I find it hard to believe that a business would want to subject their customers to all that smoke. It is not good for the ones that smoke or the ones that are forced to breathe it second hand.

    1. D. Anderson,
      Nothing we offer at The Vortex is really “good for you.” The Vortex was conceived as a place where consenting adults can go to indulge in vices, and to clarify, “health” has never been a consideration in this equation. All of our policies are clearly posted on our website. We recommend that people do their research before visiting to avoid any inconvenience. We are currently concerned that our smoking policy may no longer be as popular as it once was, so we are reassessing it with the help of our fans using this online survey. Thank you for your input. Be sure to check back in early February to see what decisions we have made.

  15. Everyone knows the deal: customers, employees, and so on. It’s a “smoking” establishment. If your business were suffering as a result, I’d say change it. But it seems to be pretty busy whenever I am in there. If you think changing the policy will help your business, go for it. Naturally you want to maximize revenue and earnings; that is understandable. But if it’s an economic wash, why do it? “Just because?”

    1. Paul,
      You are correct. The Vortex has historically been known as a “smoking bar.” But fewer people today smoke, including our staff members and our customers. So we are currently reassessing the policy with the help of our loyal fans using an online survey. Why not ask, right? A change just might maximize our revenue, if that’s really what our fans want. Be sure to check back here in early February to see how it all turns out.

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