February 3, 2006
Last year a bill that would have restricted smoking inside all public places was defeated in the state Senate, but this time around, legislators are proposing the same ban, but just for a majority of public places.
"People who smoke, obviously they're addicted," said Ex-smoker Patrick Fogarty. "I was addicted. I think they should have a chance to smoke as long as it's not intruding on others."
That's exactly the problem. A lot of non-smokers feel smoking in public places is intrusive.
That's why lawmakers are proposing a ban that would prevent people from smoking in most buildings.
"I agree with that, absolutely," said Bill Wanner. "I think the public spaces should be regulated in a uniform way."
"It might seem a little unfair to smokers, but you know everyone doesn't want to smell it," said Damarcus Wilson.
Some smokers aren't too thrilled with the idea. "I feel I should be able to smoke wherever I want to smoke," said Kellie Shelton.
As far as smoking inside restaurants, that would be left up to local government, not a comforting thought for some local business owners.
A local government making a decision on whether or not there should be smoking in a restaurant is just out of line and a violation of our freedom of rights to do things," said Tony LaBua, owner of Chaps Ice Cream Shop.
To mandate that they can't have that possibly crosses a line that we need to think hard about crossing," said Michael Rodi, owner of Rapture.
Exceptions to the ban would include private homes and vehicles, designated hotel rooms and specialty tobacco stores, but some say that's just not enough.
"It's up to my customer to come in to my place, whether it's smoking or not, not up to the government to tell me whether or not smoking is allowed in my place," said LaBua.
If passed, any person who continues to smoke in an area where it's not allowed will be subject to a $100 fine the first time and a $200 fine each time after that.
The fines for businesses that don't comply would run up to $500.
Also if passed, businesses where indoor smoking would be allowed would have to post warning signs.