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For the week of Mar. 8 through Mar. 14, 2000

City hall smoke screen


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Angry bar owners on Monday night chastised the Ketchum City Council’s proposal to draft an ordinance prohibiting smoking from all of the city’s restaurants and bars.

"If you brought this to the statehouse, I bet you could hear the laughter at least in Meridian," Grumpy’s manager Peter Prekeges told the council at the regularly scheduled meeting.

Lefty’s owner Dave Hausman didn’t like the idea, either.

"I don’t particularly like [smoking], but I, too, can choose where to go," he said. "I would certainly alienate a significant portion of my clientele."

Prekeges and Hausman were joined by about 30 other bar owners, bar goers, employees and local residents who protested the proposal.

Others who spoke told the council that alternative methods, like air filters, could resolve an unhealthy situation. They also said the dynamics of where people socialize will change significantly.

"You’re going to divide the whole valley," Hausman told the council. "A lot more people spend money here than the 3,000 official voters.

"None of us came here to ride the heels of California and their legislation."

Ketchum city attorney Margaret Simms has not yet researched the issue and did not have a draft ordinance for the council’s review Monday.

Ketchum Mayor Guy Coles said in an interview that he asked Simms to research the legality of such an ordinance, following a report that Twin Falls city attorney Fritz Wonderlich said Idaho law prohibits smoking regulations’ being made at a local level.

Wonderlich was not available for comment.

According to Idaho code, business owners can designate smoking areas, except for places where smoking is prohibited by the local fire marshal.

After being blasted for close to an hour by local smokers and nonsmokers alike, Councilman David Hutchinson defended the council’s decision to look into the matter.

"The idea is not to take away freedom of choice," he said. "The fact is that secondhand smoke is carcinogenic, and we should have healthy places to work. That’s important."

Hutchinson stressed that the idea to draft an ordinance is to protect employees of the city’s establishments, saying they should be "guaranteed" a healthy work environment.

He also added that his mind isn’t made up yet. He said his comments simply reflected some of the opinions that precipitated the council’s decision to look into an ordinance.

Bar owners maintained that restaurant and bar employees are free to seek employment at other establishments if they wish, just as smokers should be free to smoke in establishments where management allows it.

Enforcement of such an ordinance could be difficult, Ketchum Police Chief Cal Nevland pointed out last week, and the council members said they would look into that.

The council will put the issue on the back burner for the time being, until Simms has more time to work on a draft ordinance.

Ketchum resident Harry Jones advised the council that it would make a lot more sense to institute an ordinance that forbids talking on cellular phones while driving.

"Forget it, guys," Jones said about the proposed smoking ordinance.


(Express photos by David M. Seelig)

 

Robin Shaw“I think it’s a very good idea to ban smoking in public places. I would like to not come home from the bars smelling like a chimney.”
Robin Shaw
Ketchum (non smoker)

 

 


J.L. Netski“I think sections and areas and proper ventilation—that’s appropriate. To outlaw it all together is kind of crazy.
J. L. Netski
Las Vegas (smoker)

 

 



Brad Conover“I think it’s silly. In my opinion people who do smoke have rights also. Designated smoking sections are adequate. I don’t like people smoking while I’m having dinner, but if they’re in a corner it doesn’t bother me.”
Brad Conover
Hailey (non smoker)

 


Frank Ward“If someone wants to kill themselves, they should be allowed to as long as they respect the rights of others.”
Frank Ward
Ketchum (reformed smoker)

 

 

 

Jim Reed“Smoking is an outdoor sport in our opinion.”
Jim Reed
Cupertino, Calif. (non smoker)

 

 

 

 

Connie Podnar“I think it’s fascist. I’ll be at the next meeting for sure. I think there’s too much government interference in our day-to-day lives.”
Connie Podnar
Ketchum (smoker)

 

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