NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

SMOKERS GO BACK TO BALLOT BOXES IN EFFORT TO LIGHT UP AGAIN

November 3, 2006

A handful of communities from North Dakota to Pennsylvania are revisiting smoking bans and may provide more places to light up.

  • Voters in Mankato, Minn., and Appleton, Wis., will decide next week whether to repeal or weaken existing smoking bans.
  • Allegheny County, Pa., and Hennepin County, Minn., recently scaled back their ordinances, allowing smoking in more places.
  • West Fargo, N.D., is about to do the same.

In most cases, restaurant and bar owners have lobbied local leaders, saying the bans have hurt business.

The backlash is small compared with the number of municipal and state governments adopting smoking bans.  This year, 100 cities and counties -- a record number -- have enacted strong smoke-free ordinances, says Bronson Frick of the lobbying group Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.  "The trend is very much going toward smoke-free," he says.  "Economic doom and gloom" scenarios from businesses don't materialize, Frick says.

Other recent moves:

  • Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, last month amended its ban, which was approved in September, to include exemptions for some small bars.
  • Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, adopted exemptions in December for some bars and establishments such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars; they expire next July, says Bill Belknap, spokesman for Hennepin County Public Health Protection.
  • West Fargo commissioners have taken the first steps to amend the city's smoking ban, which voters approved in 2004; they want to match the state's less restrictive ban, which allows for more exemptions, Mayor Rich Mattern says.
  • Mankato voters will decide Tuesday whether to uphold or repeal its smoking ban, which went into effect in July.

Source: Emily Bazar, "Smokers go back to ballot boxes in effort to light up again," USA Today, November 3, 2006.

 

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