EAGLE – A ordinance to ban smoking in bars and certain public places failed to get the support it needed to pass in Eagle.
Council members considered the smoking ordinance Tuesday night, after passing a preliminary one earlier this month. But after several hours of debate and more public input, the council voted 3 to 1 to table the ordinance.
Michael Huffaker was the council member who changed his vote to be against the ban.
“Nothing had changed,” Huffaker says. “I was just persuaded, we are all opposed to second hand smoke but this is really not a great way to implement that policy.”
Eagle plans to send a letter to state lawmakers to consider looking at a statewide ban on smoking in public areas such as bars. Council members who opposed the ban believe this is an issue that needs to be dealt with at the state level and not at the city level.
As Eagle debated going smoke free, leaders in other cities, including Meridian, said they were watching the issue closely to see what their neighbor would do and some business owners say that has them fuming.
“I believe in choice, people choose to do what they want to do,” said Moe Alidjani, owner of The Frontier bar in Meridian.
Alidjani disagrees with what the city of Eagle was considering doing by going smoke free in bars and certain outdoor areas. He says if Meridian considered something similar he said: “I’d probably lose revenue, I’d probably lose a lot of income.”
The American Cancer Society says while they aren’t trying to take away people’s rights, they are trying to protect the health of employees who don’t smoke.
“Eagle just took the lead and really saw the relevance and the need for this type of ordinance in their community,” said Heidi Low, spokeswoman for American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network.
Low says getting a statewide smoking ban approved right now is not likely, that’s why their plan is to tackle it city by city.
“Best practices, if you look at lots of other states, they go community by community,” said Low.
Meridian city leaders say while they aren’t ready to snuff out the smoking issue just yet. One council member admits they’re watching Eagle city’s debate closely and could put something before residents by the end of this year.
“Me personally, I am looking at the health effects and the impacts to workers within that establishment,” said Brad Hoaglun, a Meridian city councilman.
But Alidjani says if the fight over fumes comes to his city and his bar: “I will challenge them.”
Leaders in Boise and Garden City are also watching the debate closely. Boise leaders say bar owners in the city have expressed a desire to see a statewide ban on smoking in public areas over a city ordinance.
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