NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Smoking and vaping in bars could be over soon in Nashville.
For a decade Jamie Kent has toured all across the United States doing what he loves, but his journey didn’t come without a few challenges.
“I’ve gotten caught in asthma attacks in the middle of a song,” he said.
Some venues he performed at allowed smoking. “It just cuts your voice in half,” said Kent. “Like halfway through a show your voice is just toast.”
So when the pandemic put a pause on his job he decided to do something for his health. “Ever since we lived here, everybody else has a smoke-free workplace in Tennessee,” said Kent. “Why don’t we?”
He launched a coalition called Musicians for a Smokefree Tennessee. It works to push music venues and bars across the state to go smoke-free.
“Once we sort of put it out into the universe it just started snowballing, and we were like, ah okay cool, the community’s got our back so let’s see if we can make this happen,” said Kent.
That change could come to Nashville.
On Tuesday, the Metro Council had a first reading of an ordinance that would ban smoking and vaping in some age-restricted venues like bars. The second reading and vote will take place next month.
Kent hopes the ordinance will pass so that he and other musicians can worry about one less thing while performing.
“It’s just going to be a relief that now it’s a level playing field,” said Kent. “We have the same protections as everybody else has in Tennessee, and we can just get to work and not have to worry.”
News 2 also reached out to Melrose Billiard Parlor owner, Austin Ray. The dive bar has allowed smoking inside for over 75 years.
“It’s bittersweet because smoking is part of the history of this 80+ year establishment, but there is a large group of current and potential guests who will welcome the change should it happen,” said Ray.
Ray believes it would even the playing field across local bars, and they are excited to share their bar with new guests if the ordinance passes.
“It will be the end of an era for the pool hall, but also a wonderful opportunity to welcome guests who have not wanted to visit Billiards due to the smoke,” he said. “Walking down the original terrazzo staircase to a historic underground escape is a unique experience that’s been shared by dive bar lovers….we will now be able to share this experience with everyone.”