Senate supports smoking ban Patrick Parkinson Of the Record staff
Refusing to be the butt of jokes from House lawmakers, state Sen. Michael Waddoups is again pushing the Legislature to ban smoking inside most businesses in Utah.
On Friday, with a vote of 17-12, the Senate passed Waddoups’ Senate Bill 19, which bans smoking in taverns, private clubs and most other workplaces in the state.
"It’s my premier issue," Waddoups said. Lighting up is off limits in restaurants and coffee shops, however, as Sundance Film Festival-goers fill bars on Main Street in Park City this week, they may be smoking inside for the last time. A bill proposed by Waddoups last year, which would have made it illegal to smoke inside taverns and clubs, squeaked through the Senate with a 15-14 vote. The legislation, however, never gained traction in the House and died before the 2005 general session ended.
According to Waddoups, representatives wouldn’t pass the bill because the prohibitions didn’t reach far enough.
"I’m calling their bluff if that’s what it is," the senator told The Park Record this week during an interview at the capitol.
Along with banning smoking in bars, Waddoups tweaked his bill this year to include "buildings owned by social and fraternal organizations, and certain nonpublic workplaces."
"That’s what the House said was holding it up last year," the senator said. SB 19 still provides exceptions for smokers staying in hotel rooms and lounging in some areas of the airport. Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, a Democrat, has opposed the smoking ban two years in a row. "I never smoked and I hate smoke billowing in my face. But boy, taking away those private rights is still troublesome to me," said Dmitrich, a non-smoker who recently had lung surgery. Talk of banning smoking in bars in Park City is so divisive that the Park City Chamber/Bureau has not taken a position on the issue. "In other years we have taken no position as well because our membership in the private-club area was pretty well split," Park City Chamber/Bureau Executive Director Bill Malone said.
He expects to discuss SB 19 with the Chamber/Bureau board of directors next week but hasn’t heard from bar owners about the ban. "I would anticipate if their feelings haven’t changed, we probably would take no position on that one as well," Malone said about this year’s legislation.
Republican Senators Beverly Evans and Allen Christensen voted to ban smoking Friday. But Democratic Rep. Ross Romero wouldn’t say how he would vote if SB 19 gets to the House. "I kind of want to wait until it’s over in our body before I start speaking on it," Romero said.
Some senators were surprised to learn Thursday that a group of bartenders from Park City have been some of the bill’s most vocal supporters, Waddoups said. "They got together and said they wanted to have clean air where they work," he said, adding, "a lot of people thought that Park City was considered a little more progressive, and people thought that would mean they would want to allow smoking to continue. Instead, I think it’s showing that they’re progressive in that they want to clean up the air and preserve a healthy workplace."
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