Lawmakers move to ban smoking in bars
The state Senate and Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. support banning smoking in Utah’s bars, however, the push to prohibit cigarettes in virtually all public places could face a tough fight in the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 19 is the second attempt by Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, to outlaw smoking in bars and private clubs in the state. The legislation has received mixed response from business owners around Main Street in Park City.
The Park City Chamber/Bureau won’t likely take a position on SB 19 because members’ opinions are "pretty well split," Chamber/Bureau Executive Director Bill Malone recently told The Park Record.
"I don’t think smokers would mind going outside to smoke," said Casey Metzger, manager of The Spur Bar and Grill, a non-smoking establishment in Park City. "But I oppose [the ban]. I think it should be a choice for a bar owner."
Metzger concedes, however, that for many years smokers kept him from working in bars.
"A lot of my employees wouldn’t work in a bar unless it was smoke free," he said.
But some House conservatives, who may believe property rights trump health concerns, could defeat the bill during this general session, which ends March 1. Last year, after the legislation squeaked through the Senate, 15-14, House lawmakers didn’t debate the bill.
In response to opponents who claimed last year’s bill didn’t go far enough, Waddoups tweaked the legislation this year to include "buildings owned by social and fraternal organizations, and certain non-public workplaces."
State senators passed SB 19 last month with a 17-12 vote. Summit County’s two senators opposed the ban.
"We have a certain clientele that definitely go out and look for non-smoking establishments because Park City has such a healthy lifestyle," Metzger said, adding, "but I think it should be a personal choice for bar owners."
With a 6-1 vote Wednesday, the House Health and Human Services Committee forwarded SB 19 to the floor.
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.