City of Casper officials have begun counting and validating several hundred signatures submitted by an anti-smoking group trying to overturn changes to the city’s public smoking ban.

Officials with the city say they began counting the signatures Thursday. They're aiming to finish the process by next week.

Keep Casper Smoke Free says nearly 3,000 signatures were gathered between June 28 and July 17 after Casper City Council narrowly approved amendments to the controversial ordinance June 18.

The amended ban allows smoking in taverns, lounges, bars, private clubs and healthcare establishments. Smoking is still not permitted in Casper-based restaurants and in publicly-funded buildings.

2,465 valid signatures are needed to force a special election next month.

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