Group works to snuff out smoking in more local bars

GARDEN CITY, Idaho (KBOI) - The group that pushed to take smoking out of bars in Boise is now following smokers to one of the only nearby places you can still have a drink and light up.

Smoking in restaurants and most other public places has been illegal in Idaho since 2004, but that wasn't the case in bars until recently.

Since last January, all bars have become smoke-free in Boise, Ketchum and Moscow. Now, the same group behind those bans is coming to Garden City.

SmokeFree Idaho
works to end smoking in public places where smoking is still allowed, like parks, motels, bus stops and bars. But the group isn't fighting smoking for smokers' health or other reasons you might expect. It's fighting for employees' lungs.

"It's a very real choice that people have to make between their health and their work," said Heidi Low, SmokeFree Idaho spokesperson, "Secondhand smoke is a real health danger...we really are there to protect workers from those dangers."

Low says every employee has a right to a smoke-free workplace.

But Al Vogt, owner of The Ranch Club in Garden City, says the group should butt out of his employees' business.

"They chose to work here. They want to work here. They want to have the money. They want to have the shift. That's their choice," Vogt said.

Only five bars in Garden City allow smoking. If they were to go smoke-free, the closest place you could go to smoke and drink is Meridian.

Customers at Vogt's bar say they stopped frequenting Boise bars when the ban went into effect.

"We saw an influx of people that hadn't been here in a long time," Vogt said.

Some say they'll do the same with Garden City bars if smoking is banned there, too.

"When I go to a bar...when I go to some place that I want to go have fun...I'm a smoker, so I want to go there and smoke. If I can't have that luxury, I'm going to find a place that I can," said Kevin Grant, a customer at The Ranch Club.