Still Smokin’? Casper Councilman Wants To Revisit Smoking Ban
You stub it out and it still stays lit.
"I would like to get on the (council work session) agenda to repeal the smoking ban," Casper Councilman Chris Walsh said at the Jan. 10 work session.
In November 2015, Casper voters voted 54 percent to 46 percent in a referendum to ban smoking in all public spaces including businesses and private clubs within the city limits.
"I know it might not be so popular with everybody," Walsh said.
"I think it's detracted from the bar businesses," he said. "I don't think it's affecting general society other than that."
At least five council members approved of the idea to place it on the Jan. 24 work session agenda. The sessions are informal meetings that usually are informational and do not result in formal council actions. The council does not take public comment during the sessions, but people can request to speak by contacting the City Manager's office. The office presents the request to the mayor, who may or may not approve it.
Walsh's request surprised one of the leaders of Smoke Free Natrona County.
"It was my impression that when the citizens were allowed to vote, that vote would be taken seriously and to heart by council and would be allowed to stand," Whitney Lamb said.
The November 2015 referendum came about after a two-year effort by Keep Casper Smoke Free to overturn a 2013 Casper City ordinance — nicknamed Smoking Ban Light — that relaxed the strict 2012 smoking ban — nicknamed Smoking Ban Fully Leaded — approved by the previous city council.
Advocates of the total ban said it will reduce smoking-related diseases and health care costs in the long run.
Opponents said bars that allowed smoking now will lose business.
Regardless of what side you're on, it's been a long smoke break.
In 2012, council by a 7-2 vote approved a near-total smoking ban.
In 2013, council on a 5-4 vote relaxed the strict rules to allow exceptions such as bars, rest homes with areas segregated from the general public, clubs as long as the function was not open to the public, and shops with private offices and work areas.
After that, Keep Casper Smoke Free gathered signatures for a referendum to decide whether the 2013 ordinance should be upheld.
In 2014, the city clerk initially disqualified the petition saying some of the signatures were invalid. Two court fights including a Wyoming Supreme Court decision and a recount later, the city clerk validated the signatures, which led to the council decision in 2015 to hold the referendum that reinstated the 2012 decision.
Lamb didn't think this would come back.
She is now the chairwoman of the Natrona County Prevention Coalition, which she said would be willing to educate the council about smoke-free environments.
"I thought it was a decided issue when the voters were able to vote on it," she said. "It's just pure surprise."