Smoking ban relaxed in Casper

Casper, Wyoming

Here’s something you don’t see very often. A town actually remove or relax a smoking ban.

Late last month, Casper, Wyo., removed its smoking ban on bars because some bar owners complained to the city that the ban was hurting their business (the ban is still in place in restaurants.).

Smokefree advocates are now collecting signatures for a voter referendum to restore the smoking ban. Not sure how such a referendum would do in such a Libertarian/conservative state like Wyoming, but it would be interesting to see.

Wyoming has no statewide smoking ban and likely will NEVER have a statewide smoking ban as it is one of the most anti-regulation, conservative states in the nation. I know Cheyenne and Laramie have smoking bans, and Jackson, Wyo., attempted to implement a smoking ban, but that ban was tossed by a Wyoming court because the wrong agency implemented it (a county health board). Casper is the second-biggest city in Wyoming next to Cheyenne.

Interesting, bar owners claimed the ban hurt their business, but according to this Casper article from April, there didn’t seem to be any effect in the bars. I’ve always thought some bar owners exaggerate some these claims, but of course, without looking at their books, who knows? At the very least, with the ban in place for only two or three months, business owners and more importantly, the city council, did not give the ban a legitimate chance.

I’ve seen this happen before. It only takes a handful of “squeaky wheels” to get a small town government council to respond (I’ve seen three or four loud parents talk school boards into sneaking intelligent design into their curricula, etc.). Again, I’m not that dogmatic about bar smoking bans, but I hate to see a small town council NOT give their new regulations a chance to succeed, and I hate to see a small town council cave to a small  and likely loud group of complainers.

Interestingly, they held a referendum to get rid of a smoking ban in Springfield, Mo., and Missouri is a pretty conservative, anti-regulatory state … the referendum failed with the pro-ban side getting 64 percent of the vote.

I wish the petitioners luck and I’ll be keeping an eye on if it succeeds.

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