Starbucks butts out

Published 10:46 pm Thursday, May 30, 2013

Justin White, a non-smoker, sits outside Starbucks in North Suffolk Thursday. The company is banning smoking within 25 feet of stores beginning Saturday. White said he was ambivalent about the change.

Justin White, a non-smoker, sits outside Starbucks in North Suffolk Thursday. The company is banning smoking within 25 feet of stores beginning Saturday. White said he was ambivalent about the change.

Smoking within 25 feet of Suffolk’s two Starbucks locations will be banned under a new policy being rolled out to company-owned stores in the United States and Canada.

According to company spokeswoman Jaime Riley, “the policy change was prompted simply by the company’s sense of responsibility to provide all customers a safe, healthy environment.”

The new policy goes into effect Saturday.

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Corrie Patterson, its manager, said she has measured the line within which smoking will not be permitted at the North Main Street location.

“Its just past where the garden starts,” she explained while preparing beverages Thursday. “I measured it the other day.”

Patterson said she has discussed the policy with smoking customers as well as employees.

“Of course they don’t like it,” she said. “(However) a few said, ‘I totally understand; I don’t want to smoke.’”

While many customers enjoy the ritual of a cigarette with their coffee, Patterson said many would also enjoy sitting outside on the deck “with a nice cup of coffee or tea … and not have to smell cigarettes.”

Riley wrote in an email the company would have a better gauge on customers’ response beginning Saturday.

“We are optimistic they will understand and be both supportive and cooperative,” she stated.

Outside the North Suffolk Starbucks on Harbour View Boulevard Thursday afternoon, a couple of customers were enjoying the fresh air. No one was smoking.

“I don’t care one way or the other” about the policy, said Kevin Gregg, a non-smoker, though adding he would appreciate the assurance of a smoke-free environment.

Fellow non-smoker Justin White, at a separate table, said he sits outside the coffeehouse once or twice a month to study.

“I don’t even really notice it,” White said of people smoking outside the Starbucks.

He said would be happy with or without the new policy.