Archive for Saturday, September 10, 2005

City ponders smoking ban revisions

Provision could make it legal to smoke in company cars

September 10, 2005


The city's smoking ban debate isn't just for bars and restaurants anymore. The show is now on the road.

City commissioners Tuesday will consider changes to the city's smoking ban, including creating a provision that would make it legal to smoke in a company vehicle. That's illegal under the current ban.

And Dr. Steven Bruner, an anti-smoking activist, says it should stay that way. Bruner, who has been one of the more vocal supporters of the ban, said employees should have the right to be free from smoke in a car, too.

"Say you are in a company and you are in a car with three other employees who are smokers and you have to breathe that crap," Bruner said. "If they make this change, you'll have no legal leg to stand on."

Bruner said he understood that the vehicle portion of the current ordinance was difficult to enforce, but he said it left open the possibility employees could file a complaint with city officials and have the activity stopped.

"This whole ordinance is pretty much complaint-based anyway," Bruner said. "It is not that anybody expects a police officer to start pulling people over for smoking in a vehicle. But if there are other employees in there, they should be protected."

Phil Bradley, executive director of the Kansas Licensed Beverage Assn. and strong opponent of the public smoking ban, agreed. He said exempting company vehicles would just show that the city really isn't concerned about protecting employee health - the stated reason for the ban.

"I guess protecting the health of those employees isn't as important," Bradley said.

The city's staff attorneys, though, are recommending the change because they said the vehicle provision was difficult to enforce for several reasons. One is that the fire department is the primary enforcement agency for the ban, but it has no ability to pull vehicles over. Plus, Scott Miller, a staff attorney, said it often was difficult to determine whether a vehicle actually was being used for company business or personal business. Also, he said, there are concerns about company vehicles from outside Lawrence traveling through the city and unknowingly violating the ordinance.

Staff members also are suggesting changes to other parts of the ordinance. Specifically, the commission will consider changes that would clarify when a business owner is guilty of violating the ban. The new ordinance would make it clear that bar, restaurant or other business owners would not be guilty of violating the ordinance if a patron was smoking in their establishments without the owner or manager's knowledge. But the revised ordinance also would make clear that owners or managers could be found guilty if they simply ignored the smoking activity.

Those proposed changes are significantly different from changes suggested by city attorneys in June. Those changes would have made owners and managers prove that they did not know a person was smoking in their establishments. Miller said staff members made the latest changes after city commissioners directed staff to try to reach a compromise with bar and restaurant owners.

Bradley said the attempt still fell short. Bradley said he still would like for business owners to be provided with a checklist of specific actions they must take that would ensure they would not be subject to prosecution.

Commissioners will discuss the changes at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


cowboy 12 years, 7 months ago

Good Lord , Do these folks have no life at all that they have time to spend on this , and shame on the city commission for wasting taxpayer dollars on this.

Why don't you try to figure out how to get somes jobs and roads in Lawrence !

rtwngr 12 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone besides me have a problem with the government restricting private enterprise from allowing a legal, government taxed, activity on their premises. I understand the whole health issue. I am a non-smoker. I like going into a restaurant and not having to worry whether I am sitting NEXT to the smoking section. I also cringe when government starts to dictate to private property owners. I think that it should be optional. That patrons should be advised that smoking is or is not allowed on the premises. Employees should know if the environment will be smoke or smoke free and choose themselves to work there.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 7 months ago

By the same logic we should allow restaurants to opt out of inspections by the health dept, too, as long as they have a sign out front telling customers that they dine at their own risk.

Godot 12 years, 7 months ago

Welcome to the land of the left wingers. They are so sure they know how you should live your life that they'll violate your rights in order to force you to do it their way.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 7 months ago

While I personally would like to see a bit more flexibility in the smoking ban that would allow some smoking establishments, the current ban doesn't force anyone not to smoke. It merely means that smokers can't force non-smokers to breathe second-hand smoke just because they exercise their right to use public accommodations.

OK, that's my 2 cents worth, so now you can go back to wailing about your martyrdom.

nut_case 12 years, 7 months ago

I am with you rtwngr. I'm a non smoker and like the ban...but the way it was implemented....dang!! Government should NOT have that much power!!

compmd 12 years, 7 months ago

I am all for the smoking ban.
Including its extension into company cars. However, as is usual in dealings with the law in Kansas, this has been bungled. Very simply, there is no smoking allowed in businesses in Lawrence except smoke shops. So, if a company does business based in Lawrence, and their office must abide by the ban, why shouldn't their cars?
It is company property, after all.
As far as enforcing the ban on cars traveling through Lawrence from non-Lawrence companies goes, that is a crock of crap every single one of you here knows it. If a company car from a company outside of Lawrence comes through Lawrence, the city can't enforce its rules on it. There is no "place of business" in Lawrence to enforce the ban upon. So, if people are smoking in Lawrence company cars in Lawrence and someone complains, the city should issue a citation. If people are smoking in non-Lawrence company cars in Lawrence, how can the city have jurisdiction?

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 12 years, 7 months ago

I am a non-smoker, in fact I am allergic to it. My breathing passages become blocked and my eyes water profusely. I do not think it should be allowed in any public place. I suffer health problems, which will be with me the rest of my life, due to having to work in a room with smokers. It is a nasty, dangerous habit. Nicotine addiction is as severe as heroin or cocaine addiction. I feel sorry for people addicted to that crap, but they are not going to take me down with them. I applaud Lawrence for taking such a strong stand against smoking in public places. If these people were just killing themselves, it would be one thing, but smoking in public is causing everyone around them to breathe the nasty, carcinogen laden smoke. To me it's no different than attempted murder. I won't even frequent restaurants in Topeka who have smoking sections, because invariably the smoke drifts all over the restaurant. Keep up the good work Lawrence, stop all of it. It is a public health issue. I hate driving past hospitals, seeing all of the medical care professionals out sucking up their fix of nicotine, then going back in, reeking of the stuff, caring for patients. It should be illegal for any of them to smoke at work. I worked with a woman, she and her husband both smoked like chimneys. He died of lung cancer. Afterward she just kept puffing away till it killed her, too. I can never understand that, one would think she would do whatever it took to get off of the stuff, rather than die because of it. Lynn

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