By CRAIG GARRETT
Maybe this is Carl Gause’s opportunity to butt out.
The Arcadia Moose Lodge No. 1327 starting in January bans indoor smoking, the use of any tobacco product. The Moose Fraternity in July voted in favor of a worldwide smokefree policy at a convention in Las Vegas. Arcadia was a holdout, as most central Florida lodges had already banned smoking. Venice, for example, stopped indoor smoking at its lodge in 2013.
“We were the last Moose” to allow indoor smoking, said Gause, an off and on smoker seeing this as a chance to quit. “We’re going to make the best of it … and make it work.”
The idea to end indoor smoking at national Moose lodges is an “important step (that) will improve health, save lives, and help make lodges more welcoming to a new generation of members,” according to a statement released after the new policy was adopted.
According to Moose Supreme Prelate Bruce Berger prior to the vote, “It is absolutely essential that our lodges go smokefree. It not only opens up a whole new pool of prospective members from young and old alike, but will help get families with children or grandchildren to become members of the greatest Fraternity in the world. The time is now to take action. The Supreme Council would greatly appreciate your support in taking this positive step to ensure a bright future for the Moose.”
The Moose are allowing lodges to apply to their grant program to assist with clean up of thirdhand smoke and accommodation as lodges transition to smokefree.
But forcing smokers to butt out isn’t necessarily healthy for the bottomline, Gause warned. Arcadia Moose workers in random surveys found that up to 65 percent of its bar patrons smoke, he said. Those important dollars add up, especially in a nonprofit donating so much of its proceeds to such groups as scouts, kids, students and other programs.
Moose math is that lodge smokers account for about 14 percent of Arcadia’s overall population, Gause said.
Still, the writing has been on the wall for years. Florida banned indoor smoking in most places back in 2003, and most businesses followed suit. Private clubs such as the Moose and casinos and other exceptions worked outside the ban. The Arcadia Moose will turn a screened porch area into a designated spot to fire up. The international organization’s ban includes all tobacco products.
“There are no gray areas,” Gause said.