Smoking Ban Amendments Pass: Smoking Soon Allowed in Casper Bars
City councilors have approved multiple amendments to the city of Casper’s controversial public indoor smoking ban.
Casper City Council narrowly passed the third and final reading of the revised smoking ordinance 5-4 on Tuesday night. The amended ordinance adds several council-suggested amendments into the language of the current ordinance, including language that permits smoking within Casper-based taverns, lounges, bars, private clubs and healthcare facilities.
The revised ordinance still doesn't allow smoking within restaurants, galleries, libraries, museums, bingo halls, pull-tab establishments, elevators, daycare facilities, performance halls, polling places, restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, shopping malls, schools, sports arenas, stadiums, publicly funded buildings and on public transportation.
Smoking would also not be allowed within Casper-based restaurants that hold a specific bar-and-grill liquor license.
Tuesday’s vote was a carbon copy of prior votes on April 16 and May 21. Councilmen Keith Goodenough, Steve Cathey, Bob Hopkins, Paul Bertoglio and Daniel Sandoval voted in favor of the amended ban. Casper mayor Kenyne Schlager and councilmen Paul Meyer, Charlie Powell and Craig Hedquist voted against the revisions.
Ward I councilman Daniel Sandoval says, though he’d still like to see the entire ordinance repealed, he likes the changes that were made.
“Personally, I think it should be repealed and stay repealed,” Sandoval said. “(But) I do like the amendments – I think it makes sense that there are exceptions drawn. The first ordinance was just a little bit too wide-sweeping.”
Officials with Keep Casper Smoke Free say they’ll now launch a referendum campaign to revert the changes made to the ordinance. Kimberly Holloway, one of the chairpeople for Keep Casper Smokefree, believes her group's campaign will be successful.
“According to the last survey results, the vast majority of people in this community support the original ban – it was a comprehensive ban that applied to everybody,” Holloway said. “There was no misunderstanding of what council was doing and the support was there.”
The new ordinance will not take effect until it’s formally published at the end of June. From that point, Keep Casper Smokefree would have to gather 2,465 signatures in 20 days to trigger the special election.
The special election would then be held in August. City officials estimate that the election would cost the city between $10,000 and $25,000.
Several area entrepreneurs say revenues at certain Casper-based service and manufacturing businesses have been down sharply since the city enacted its original smoking ban last September.
A referendum rally has already been planned for June 28 at Conwell Park.