Smoking Ban Ordinance
Now that the State of Wisconsin has enacted a smoking ban in all restaurants, taverns and other public places that goes into effect in July, 2010, I think it is time for the Eau Claire City Council to re-examine its ordinance that will, in effect, become null and void next summer. Although I am not in favor of many laws that government places on business, I understand the principle of the legislation that is designed to make citizens less exposed to the hazards of smoke in the workplace - even though smoking cigarettes is legal.
However, I think now is the time that the Eau Claire City Council repeal its citywide ban on smoking for one year
. Keep in mind that not all tavern owners will resort to allow smoking again. But, I would guess that any business owner who serves alcohol to partrons on or near the borders of the Town of Washington, the City of Altoona or the Village of Lake Hallie, will take advantage of any opportunity to recoup some of the many dollars lost during the past year since the Eau Claire smoking ban went into effect.
One of the most bogus claims by supporters of the smoking ban last year was when statements were made predicting that non-smokers may start to frequent taverns once the smoking ban was in place. Frankly, I have never met a person who was offended by tobacco smoke who all of a sudden started going to taverns because they were now non-smoking establishments. That was probably the dumbest argument in favor of a smoking ban that I have ever heard.
There are some that will argue that the recession is as much to blame for the decline in business at Eau Claire taverns over the past year.
I would agree that the economic downturn has impacted some local retail establishments. But I would also submit that the smoking ban has made for an uneven playing field that only allows taverns in border municipalities to prosper at the expense of similar operations within the city limits.
I realize that there is probably a one in 100 chance that Eau Claire City Council members will even bother to revisit their ordinance that prohibits smoking in public places, but I think elected officials should throw a bone to the small business owners who have bitten the bullet prior to any statewide legislation becoming law. Those who employ bartenders, waiters/waitresses and others would probably embrace any change in the rules for the next year so they can retain their employees rather than consider additional layoffs, terminations or the ultimate closure of their doors to the public. To me, this would only be fair. And for those who do not like the idea of repealing the smoking ban, I suggest those individuals find places to go for entertainment within the city limits that will remain status quo.