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Kat’s Tavern offers a breath of fresh air for bar patrons

E.I. Hillin / Red Dirt Report
Left, Miriah Ralston receives an ice-cold beer from Kat’s Tavern owner, Kat Peckenpaugh during a Thursday night at Kat’s Tavern, 901 N.W. 64th St. in Oklahoma City.
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OKLAHOMA CITY-- After more than 15 years spent in the service industry, Kat Peckenpaugh ventured out to make her dreams of opening a bar of her own come true. One thing she knew for certain was that her bar would be smoke-free.

“I always wanted my own bar nonsmoking,” she said.

Peckenpaugh, 29, worked for eight years in a bar which allowed cigarette smoking. Since working in a smoke-free bar, Peckenpaugh said she has noticed a difference in her own health.

“I use to think we just had bad air quality in Oklahoma,” she said.  “When I finally realized it was the bar, I thought we should have a better health code.”

Kat’s Tavern, formerly By George’s, opened its doors for business in early September and is located at N.W. 64th and N. Classen Boulevard. After a total revamp of the building, Peckenpaugh was disturbed by the “sheer nastiness of the walls” and some of the mysterious fuzz which had accumulated in the air ducts.

“This is what you breathe in,” she said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, employees who are exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace are 20-30 percent more likely to get lung cancer and the longer they are exposed the higher the risk.

Peckenpaugh heard about the Free The Night campaign, a statewide campaign dedicated to supporting smoke-free bars and clubs, while working in another bar and was instantly supportive of the organizations’ message.

One of the pillars of the FTN campaign is the belief that all employees and customers have the right to a healthy environment. Kat’s Tavern became a Free The Night partner in 2017.

Bar patrons adore their favorite “watering holes” and will often offer a special loyalty to bartenders as well. Miriah Ralson is a prime example with her continued support of both Peckenpaugh and the location of the former By George’s.

Ralson said Kat’s Tavern is a totally different place.

“It smells better and I don’t walk out smelling like a cigarette,” she said. “I use to have to change clothes as soon as I got home, but now I don’t worry about that.”

Evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer shows changing to a smokefree environment does not harm bar patronage, employment, or profits; In fact, in some cases, it improves revenue. Studies from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show more than seven out of ten Oklahomans do not smoke.

Each Thursday and Friday night smokefree fans flock to Kat’s for smokefree karaoke. From classic rock to country favorites, patrons sign up to belt out their most beloved songs. Johnathan Prince said he chooses to visit Kat’s Tavern rather than other karaoke bars because of the smokefree policy.

Johnathan Prince enjoys karaoke night without all the cigarette smoke he has experienced in other bars. (E.I. Hillin / Red Dirt Report)

“It's one-hundred times different,” Prince said. “I can’t breathe in those [other] places.”

Free The Night is funded through the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. For more information or to inquire about bar customer surveys, visit or follow FTN on Facebook or Twitter.

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About the Author

E.I. Hillin

Elizabeth Ivy Hillin, 30, grew up in Lindsay, Okla., where the dirt is definitely red. Hillin...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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