Are You Within 25 Feet of a Starbucks? Then Put Out that Cig!

STORY BY Jessica Elizabeth Pawlarczyk

Published: June 15, 2013

Starbucks has finally gone firm on its formerly wishy-washy smoking stance. 

As of June 1, the coffeehouse will no longer allow smoking within 25 feet of its stores.

According to The Huffington Post, the ban will affect about 7,000 stores across the United States and Canada. Unaffected stores include Starbucks locations that are enclosed in other stores, such as a Target.

It can go without being said that Starbucks has officially angered many of its loyal customers… But how many? And more importantly, how long will the “anger” last?

Although a cup of coffee and a cigarette used to be the ultimate combination, nowadays, we live in a much more health conscious world. The younger generations know that tobacco can kill, and obviously, the majority of Americans in their 20s and 30s do not smoke.

This being said, I am currently sitting on a Nashville Starbucks patio with two younger men who are smoking— and I am reminded that Starbucks still has a very tangible customer base that likes to light up.  

I wonder if I should go over and tell them to really enjoy their cigarettes since they’ll be illegal in T-minus 24 hours…?

While I ponder this, I also notice the fact that my local Starbucks extends right to the edge of the public sidewalk. (Off of the building’s patio, there is a concrete area that has patio table and chairs for customers to sit, and this concrete slab touches the sidewalk.)

Huh. A passerby that is smoking would clearly be within the ban’s strict 25-foot perimeter. So how does that work? Clearly, Starbucks does not own all 25 feet surrounding this particular store… So can pedestrians smoke if they are walking on the public, government-owned sidewalk? Or do they have to abide by “Starbucks rules?”

Chances are the chain-smoking pedestrian is going to win this battle.

Just by examining my own town’s Starbucks, I have the feeling that Starbucks is going to be swamped with similar sticky situations. As they say, it’s always easier to create than enforce a law.

The baristas at Starbucks are just too nice… And they are trained to be that way. I cannot imagine one of them having the backbone to go up to a customer and ask them to put their pack of cigarettes away. (Okay fine, they might ask, but not before apologizing a thousand times and then offering you a free cinnamon bun.)

What I’m trying to get at is this: Starbucks employees are going to have to “play police,” and it’s probably not going to go over well.

On the bright side, it should be interesting to watch!


Want to stay informed about the latest Starbucks buzz and controversy? Visit: It’s kind of amusing.

Other Stories by Jessica Elizabeth Pawlarczyk
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