Smoke gets ‘ayes’

By on November 19, 2014

Even non-smokers vote to lift smoking ban at VFW Post 1463

Post Vice-Commander Dustin Bailey said social members and smoking have been allowed at VFW Post 1463 since the club's inception in the 1930s. (photo by Patrick Burns)

Post Vice-Commander Dustin Bailey said social members and smoking have been allowed at VFW Post 1463 since the club’s inception in the 1930s. (photo by Patrick Burns)

While a resolve to lift a short-lived smoking ban at Lititz Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1463 didn’t please everyone, the vote among eligible voting members wasn’t close.

The vote last week to immediately lift the smoking ban imposed Oct. 1 was 17-8, said Post Commander Rich Mellott.

The vote means once again only members and their guests are allowed to enter the club. When the club was smoke-free the general public could patronize the restaurant but could not buy alcohol, as per state law.

While social members make up the largest group of members who actively patronize the club, only vets who served in a war zone can be considered active members eligible to vote on club rules.

The vote to reinstate smoking angered some members such as Bill Thomas, VFW 1463 Post Quartermaster, who stepped down from his post.

Vincent Anzalone, a Vietnam vet and former smoker who has emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, said he dropped out of the club. He said he understands the dynamics of the keeping the VFW operating.

“It’s a vet post run by patrons,” Anzalone said. “The club depends on outsiders to keep the club going.”

But Anzalone suggested that any lost business &tstr;from smokers fleeing &tstr; would eventually return.

“The problem is (members running the club) want instant gratification and don’t want to wait to see what happens,” Anzalone said.

Post Vice-Commander Dustin Bailey said social members and smoking have been allowed since the club’s inception in the 1930s.

Bailey said the VFW depends on social members, who submitted a list of 176 signatures petitioning the club to return to a smoking-friendly taproom at 14 N. Spruce St. He rejected the notion that the VFW national headquarters has pushed local clubs to eliminate smoking.

“If national was pushing for all posts to become non-smoking every post would be,” Bailey said.

He said the loss of business after the smoking ban was precipitous and “it’s been a struggle.”

The club is a bit unusual in that it competes with at least four smoking clubs/bars that are within walking distance.

He said pro-smoking social members who pay $40 annual dues don’t necessarily smoke.

“The petition broke down who smoked and who didn’t, and there was quite a bit who did not smoke that said keep it smoking,” Bailey said. “This list was composed of social membership, ladies’ auxiliary membership, and also signed by some of the veterans who are not actively involved in the post.”

David Fultz, a non-smoking voting member who voted to lift the smoking ban, notes that the club invested “a small fortune” to install air-handling fans that serve to eliminate smoke from the bar, though members who oppose smoking have argued its effectiveness.

“We’re not a bar, we’re a club,” Fultz said. “The majority rules.”

Fultz also pointed out that social members are very active in promoting the VFW’s agenda of giving back to the community through charity work and other efforts.

“A vet has earned the right to smoke,” Fultz said. “A lot of vets have seen a lot of stuff, you know. If smoking is all they’re doing, that’s not such a bad thing.”

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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