No Smoking in Bars?

You may have seen news reports that some local bar owners have asked the City Council to ban smoking in all Idaho Falls bars.  The council is taking up the discussion this coming Tuesday morning at 8:30 in the council chambers with a draft ordinance that provides an exemption for private clubs. Even though this ordinance comes through the public safety committee, it’s more of a public health policy than a police issue, so I’m officially neutral.

From the perspective of the bar owners who proposed this, they hate to subject their employees to the smoke hazard, but don’t want to chase away customers either.  They figure making all bars smoke-free puts them on a level playing field.

No-smoking advocates will argue this point more passionately saying that employees have no choice and there are immense health consequences to them.  The more zealous advocates argue that smoking has such a deleterious effect that it should simply be outlawed.

Conversely, other bar owners believes this should be an individual choice and that no one is forcing anyone into a bar.  If a patron wants to smoke, they go to a smoking bar.  If they don’t, they can go to a no-smoking bar.

They are supported by freedom oriented non-smokers who believe personal choice trumps the health issue.

Are there any no-smoking bars in Idaho Falls?  The answer is yes, but it gets a little tricky.  Bars that are also restaurants already can’t allow smoking by state law.  This includes everything from a regular restaurant that serves wine with dinner to establishments that are primarily bars, but serve food on the side – and everything in between with lots of variations.  There is one regular bar, The Bliss, which has no food and does not allow smoking.

It’s no secret that smoking, even 2nd hand smoke, has a stunning cost in health care and misery, but should the city council ban it in bars?  Contact them to give your opinion or better yet, attend Tuesday morning’s work session.  It’s likely to be a lively discussion.