Eagle smoking ban is cast away as councilor changed his mind
Following a sudden change of heart by one of the City Council members, an introduced bill, which would have prompted Eagle to become the first locality across Idaho to ban indoor smoking in each and every public place, was put aside last week. In conformity with Idaho legislation, smoking is banned in the majority of indoor public places including restaurants and nightclubs but is permitted in designated sections in venues with less than five employees (in case such rooms are physically separated and ventilated and minors are banned from entrance to those rooms.
The measure was already adopted by the council, when Mayor Phil Bandy cracked an equal 2-2 vote by the council members. However, one of four councilors Michael Huffaker decided to alter his vote during the hearing of second reading of the legislation.
The bill was dropped when the council members voted for a second time on Tuesday. This time it was a 3-1 vote against the smoking ban implementation. The lone supporter of the ban was councilor Al Shoushtarian.
Councilman Huffaker admitted that he decided to change his mind after hearing and considering all the arguments presented by his colleagues Jeanne Jackson-Heim and Norm Semanko, who opposed the bill from the very first reading. Eagle Councilor added that there were several controversial issues, among which was the assumption that such comprehensive policy should be imposed statewide and not at the city level.
“Above all we should take a wise decision, and adopting such controversial ban doesn’t sound like a reasonable one,” said Mr. Huffaker. “It is not clear whether we are doing a good deed or hurting our citizens”.
Councilman also added that there have been other debatable issues, including the question of the intelligibility of the language in the ordinance, problem of enforcement of the ban, and the inevitable consequences for local establishments that serve meals and drinks.
The only supporter of the bill, councilman Al Shoushtarian said that he write a letter to Idaho Senators urging them to revise the current indoor smoking policy and call off all the exemptions as it has been a loophole for smokers and business owners.
Mayor Phil Bandy admitted that the proposal to impose a citywide comprehensive smoking ban was initially introduced by the Smoke-free America in the spring. The ordinance is now dropped, unless the councilors set a later date to review it again.
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