Casper, Wyoming a few months ago implemented a smoking ban for all restaurants and bars.
Well, after only a few weeks, bar owners went to the city council and whined about the effect of the ban on their business and the city council, which had a couple of new members from when the ordinance was first approved, overturned the ban for bars .. again after a FEW WEEKS.
Well, a local group was not pleased with the city council caving and turned in a bunch of signatures to put the whole thing to referendum. Their petition fell 61 signatures short of being enough to put it on the ballot … BUT the city clerk rejected 685 signatures … out of about 3,200, making them fall short.
The group — Smokefree Natrona County — is now demanding a recount of those signatures. Sigh, this never seems to be easy (how do you throw out more than 20 percent of the signatures on the petition, anyway?)
Anyway, the city clerk is not required to do a recount, so the bar smoking ban in Casper might be dead for now (not sure what would stop them from doing another petition drive?).
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.