Casper City Council took its first of three steps toward significantly changing Casper’s public indoor smoking ordinance Tuesday night.

At its regular Tuesday meeting, council passed the first of three readings of the amended smoking ban by a narrow 5-4 margin after hearing over 90 minutes of debate and public discussion.

Councilmen Keith Goodenough, Steve Cathey, Bob Hopkins, Paul Bertoglio and Daniel Sandoval voted in favor of the amended ban. Mayor Kenyne Schlager and councilmen Paul Meyer, Charlie Powell and Craig Hedquist voted against the revisions.

Mayor Kenyne Schlager says she’s disappointed by the results of the vote.

“The smoking issue, for me, is a health issue – I’m in the medical field, and people’s health is very important to me,” Schlager said. “Those of us that are concerned about health are disappointed, but we’re a body of nine voices and we need to go with the majority.”

Anthony Pollreisz, K2 Radio
Anthony Pollreisz, K2 Radio

Ward I councilman Bob Hopkins says he’s happy with the ordinance’s amended language.

“The amendments that we approved tonight are reasonable,” Hopkins said. “Essentially, Casper remains a smoke-free community, especially when it comes to places to eat.”

The new ordinance, which takes the current ordinance and applies several council-suggested amendments, would allow smoking in taverns, lounges, bars and private clubs located within Casper's city limits. Ward I councilman Keith Goodenough suggested that council consider adding cigar bars, pubs and wineries to future readings of the ordinance.

Additionally, an attempt by Ward I councilman Charlie Powell to table the vote on the amended ordinance failed 6-3. Powell, prior to the vote, urged council to consider a full repeal of the ordinance instead.

Officials with Smokefree Natrona County, the group that lobbied in favor of the passage of the current ordinance last year, say they will launch a referendum campaign if the existing ordinance is amended.

The ordinance must pass two readings before its modifications become official.

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