In case you missed it, Wednesday's long city council meeting packed plenty of punch, highlighted by the morning open-microphone session and the late afternoon briefing about the smoking ban. After neglecting her blog for almost two months, Angela Hunt has pulled off a blogging trifeca (and I hear others are on the way) regarding Wednesday's events, starting with Mayor Leppert's decision not to broadcast the afternoon speakers on radio or television.
Yes, the occasional invective will be thrown in, and we'll deal with it then, but to try to either limit citizen input or keep them from being heard during a regular meeting broadcast is not acceptable. I asked who was responsible for making this unilateral decision, and the Mayor fessed up. But you see, it's not his decision, it's the Council's decision, and it should be an open discussion.
Hunt then explains why she supports a strengthened smoking ordinance, which will ban smoking in bars, pool halls and within 15 feet of public buildings.
While I don't fall on the same side as her on this issue, I gotta hand it to her for providing the best argument I've heard so far.
Let's take the cultural tradition out of smoking and look at it objectively. Imagine people walking into an office building with aerosol cans containing 60 known cancer-causing toxins. They start spraying. They fill up the place with this gas -- deadly chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and arsenic. We wouldn't say these people have a "right" to spray these chemicals just because they enjoy the way they smell. We wouldn't let them expose the office workers to all those carcinogens, even if the owner of the office building welcomed the sprayers with open arms. And we certainly wouldn't let the owner charge admission and profit from these spray-happy folks, and accept his lame argument that his employees can just find other jobs if they don't like sniffing hydrogen cyanide and ammonia all day.
Below, a sneak peek from Hunt regarding what she's expecting the new ordinance to look like. --Sam Merten
Smoking will likely be prohibited:
- Indoor workplaces (smoker/owner can be fined)
- Bars (smoker/owner can be fined)
- Within 15 feet of main entrance (patios exempted) (only smoker can be fined)
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- Tobacco shops (which get more than 90% of their revenue from tobacco)
- Currently operating cigar bars (they will be grandfathered so that they can operate, but no new cigar bars can open)
- Outdoor patios at restaurants or bars
- $200 ticket to smoker and/or owner
- Possibility of license revocation for repeat offenses