The guv just signed the new smoking ban into effect. Beginning October 1st there will be no smoking in public places with the exception of designated hotel rooms. The ban has a provision for casinos and bars… they will be given 4 years to “ease into” the ban on smoking. There is also a provision that no town can have a smoking ban that is more strict than the statewide ban.
The city of Helena passed a smoking ban several years ago. Much ado has been made nationally about how the heart attack rates were reduced during that time… I would post a link to the study but I don’t know the address. The ban was repealed based on a technicality and then recently reinstated… now I guess it will be repealed again because it is more strict than the statewide ban.
I have a couple of points to offer up for consideration.
1. The state just enacted an increased tax on cigarettes. So, we are hoping to raise some cash for education and whatnot by taxing cigs… and then we ban them everywhere? (Or is the point of the tax to get people to quit?)
2. Before the original Helena ban, a friend of mine who is required to frequent taverns for his job was very excited… he doesn’t like coming home smelling like an ash tray and the smoke hurts his eyes. After the ban went into effect he was lamenting the loss of income from the gaming machines. So are we hurting the -admittedly shakey- Helena economy beyond the bar & casino owners? (Go ahead, apply multipliers and all that stuff I vaguely remember from my college economics class.... although the most striking thing from that class was my prof's red Chuck's & her amazingly cool accent.)
3. Oh, and "I only smoke when I drink" cigarette sales in bars are a major source of income, right? (So are we actually hurting education by taking away a healthy (ha, no pun intended) source of income (see tax in #1) for schools?)
3. What does this do to businesses that rely on OTHER businesses allowing smoking as a “draw” for themselves? I’m talking about the smoke free casinos & bars that advertise themselves as such. I know we often frequent The Brewhouse because there is no smoke… so will they actually lose business because of this now that we can go anywhere?
4. What about the freedom to make your own rules for your own business? You know what I’m talking about. Slippery slope and all.
What do ya'll think?