Garden City leaders scale back smoking ban proposal

GARDEN CITY, Idaho (KBOI) - Council members held a public hearing Monday night for a smoke-free ordinance that's less restrictive than the first version, which would have banned smoking inside businesses, including bars.

An amended version that city leaders read for the first time is very limited in scope, allowing lighting up in a bar. It's businesses that allow people who are younger than 21, like the city's three hookah bars, that would be affected.

"You're looking at imposing an ordinance that could potentially damage some businesses. All businesses? No. Long term? No. I won't argue that point either because I don't think that it's true," said Joe Reyes, owner of Dive Bar, "but we are talking about removing the ability for adults to make a choice."

Smoking would not be allowed in most enclosed public places with exceptions for bars and bingo halls, and also within 50 feet of bus stops, school entrances and city buildings.

However, the ordinance says smoking would not be regulated in bars and bingo halls that follow a strict policy of only allowing people 21 and up inside.

A lawyer representing Hollywood Hookah, which caters to an 18-and-up crowd, said the proposal would significantly impact business.

Those in support of the smoke-free policy said the proposal was watered down.

"We'd hoped to see a comprehensive, robust ordinance that really protected all workers, and instead, we saw a pared-down version of that, so we are a little disappointed... and hopeful over the next few readings that we can see some changes to the ordinance," said Stacey Satterlee, Idaho director of government relations for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network.

City council read the ordinance for the first time Monday, so it could be tweaked before a final vote. The second reading is set for July 14.