Voters Approve Total Smoking Ban For Casper
Voters decided the City of Casper will return to a comprehensive smoking ban in public buildings, according to unofficial results of the referendum reported by the Natrona County Clerk's Office on Tuesday.
The outcome disappointed restaurant owner Pat Sweeney.
Sweeney, who owns the nonsmoking Wonder Bar and Poor Boy's Steakhouse, strongly opposed the total ban and favored the partial smoking ban, but nevertheless complimented the citizens for the voter turnout.
"It is what it is at this point," Sweeney said after the results were posted. "It's close, but no cigar. A win is a win."
Of the 6,272 ballots voters cast, 3,368, or nearly 54 percent, were for the total ban approved by Casper City Council in June 2012.
The remaining 2,894 ballots, or 46 percent, were for the limited ban council approved a year later.
Included in that total were the 1,121 absentee ballots cast from Oct. 20 through Monday. There are about 18,300 registered voters in the City of Casper.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Casper City Council will conduct a special meeting in council chambers to certify the results of the special election.
The referendum came about after a two-year effort by Keep Casper Smoke Free to overturn a 2013 Casper City ordinance — nicknamed Smoking Ban Light — that relaxed the strict 2012 smoking ban — nicknamed Smoking Ban Fully Leaded — approved by the previous city council.
The 2013 ordinance allowed certain businesses to decide whether they wanted to allow smoking on their premises. Only a few bars in Casper have allowed smoking, and some of their owners have said they will go out of business if the city returns to the strict ban. They have said people who want to drink, eat and smoke will just drive to Mills or Evansville.
However, those opposed to the 2013 ordinance have said smoking drives up health care costs for everyone. They cited studies that show communities that have enacted comprehensive smoking bans have seen significant declines in cardiovascular diseases and other health problems.
On Sept. 22, council decided to put the issue before the voters.
The referendum was the only item on the ballot.
Earlier Tuesday, city residents steadily walked through the doors of the Hall of Champions at the Fairgrounds, which was one of the six polling places in the city.
Kati Rathbun and Steven Spurgin said they voted for the measure, and cited the common property rights reason by proponents.
"The business should do what they want to do," Rathbun said.
Chris Stotts agreed.
"It's property rights, it belongs to the person who owns the business," Stotts said. "It has nothing to do with smoking."
But Glenda Pullen said the referendum had everything to do with smoking.
"I definitely voted against," Pullen said.
Several of her family members have smoked for decades and they are suffering from the results, she said. "I've just seen the damage it can cause."