Originally published in the Idaho Mountain Express on Jan. 25.
Ketchum says butt out of my air space
Council orders drafting of smoke-free ordinance
By BRENNAN REGO, Express Staff Writer
Ketchum residents might soon get even more fresh air than they do now as the city’s officials have approved the drafting of a smoke-free ordinance that would ban smoking in enclosed public spaces and places of employment, on school grounds and city property, including parks, as well as potentially in other places.
At a City Council meeting Tuesday, the council members unanimously agreed that the ordinance should be written, and directed Mayor Randy Hall to instruct city staff members to do so.
“I agree with protecting the rights of the nonsmoker,” Hall said. “It’s an invasion of space.”
Similar legislation was passed in Boise in November 2011, spurred by nonprofit Smokefree Idaho (whose motto is “Everyone has the right to breathe clean air.”) Representatives of Smokefree Idaho, the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association spoke at the meeting, stating numerous reasons why Ketchum should move forward with the law. Also, several members of the public commented mainly in favor of the prospective law.
Former Rep. Wendy Jacquet, D-Ketchum, said at the meeting that she had initially requested the presentation from Smokefree Idaho. She said she smoked from age 16 until she contracted breast cancer at age 47. She now advocates against smoking and said a smoke-free ordinance would be a good way for the city to communicate to its youth that they shouldn’t pick up the habit.
Councilman Jim Slanetz supported drafting the ordinance, but said it shouldn’t be overly strict.
“I’m not a smoker, but I don’t think traditional smoking places such as outside [the bars] should be included,” he said, referring to a Smokefree Idaho suggestion that people not be allowed to smoke within 20 feet of a building’s door (as was approved by Boise).
Police Chief Steve Harkins said it would be hard to enforce the law on Main Street because if you move 20 feet from one door, you’re at another. He also said the law would be hard to enforce at large events. A staff report included in the meeting packet suggests not banning smoking on city streets or sidewalks, as that would place an “unacceptably high” burden on the Police Department.
In an interview after the meeting, Slanetz said he agrees that employees should be protected from worrying about getting fired if they complain about smoky work conditions.
“In that sense, I think the ordinance could be very helpful,” he said.
Several members of the Ketchum Fire Department spoke in favor of the law at the meeting. Capt. Tom McClean said he doesn’t like standing in other people’s smoke while on duty at large events. Lt. Tory Canfield said the city does a great job protecting people from other forms of pollution such as noise and light pollution, and that this law would be another step in that direction.
“I don’t think children and nonsmokers should have to smoke other peoples cigarettes,” she said.
Ketchum resident Mickey Garcia said most of the proposed law was unnecessary “feel good” legislation.
“I think that’s where greenie weenies become fascists,” he said.
However, he did agree that people shouldn’t be subjected to second-hand smoke at work.
A report by Smokefree Idaho, included in the meeting packet and available on the city’s website, states that even though the city’s restaurants and bars voluntarily don’t allow indoor smoking at the moment, that doesn’t mean new businesses will stick to the status quo.
People who would like more information or to provide comments on the potential law can call Lisa Horowitz, the city’s community and economic development director, at 726-7801. Horowitz said a draft should be ready for council review at an upcoming meeting on Feb. 19.