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City Council to Move Forward With Smoking Ban Amendment Process

Anthony Pollreisz, K2 Radio

Casper City Council says it will attempt to amend portions of the city’s controversial public indoor smoking ban. The decision was made after over an hour of debate during council’s regular work session Tuesday night.

During the work session, several revisions were presented to council. Council struck down a proposal to amend ordinance sections that pertain to Casper-based taxi cab operators, but supported altering ordinance language dealing with bars, taverns, healthcare facilities, private clubs, work areas and service establishments.

Council also favored adding language that would require “smoker friendly” businesses within city limits to clearly post signs indicating to patrons that management allows smoking on the premises.

Ward I councilman Bob Hopkins, who presented many of the revisions to council, says, from an economic and logistical standpoint, revising the ordinance makes the most sense.

“If we end up repealing the ban, there would be a new ordinance – well, first, we’ll have to pay for the election, but there would be a new ordinance which will have to go through three more readings and we’ll hear the same testimony that we’ve heard already,” Hopkins said.

Ward III councilman Steve Cathey favors amending or repealing the ban. He says the current smoking ban reaches too far. Cathey says the current ban infringes upon private property rights and basic civil liberties.

“I’m an ex-smoker, I’ve had the heart attack and I’ve had the heart surgery, but, by the same token, there’s a point where a line needs to be drawn between public and private business,” Cathey said. “This is a private business issue as much as it is a public health issue.”

Mayor Kenyne Schlager supports the ban but also favors its repeal. Schlager says she wants voters to decide the fate of the ban through a referendum. However, she says some council members want to consider all available options.

“At one point, we had enough support to repeal, but it seems like some council members want to go through the process,” Schlager said. “It will, most likely, waste most of our time, but you never know what will change between now and then.”

When posed with the question about whether to amend or repeal the ban, councilmen Daniel Sandoval, Charlie Powell, Keith Goodenough, Paul Meyer, Steve Cathey and Mayor Kenyne Schlager said they supported repealing the ban, while councilmen Paul Bertoglio and Steve Hopkins said they favored amending the ban. Councilman Craig Hedquist abstained.

The city’s public indoor smoking ordinance has been in place since last September. It passed its third reading last June.

Council will hold its next regular meeting next Tuesday.

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