Smoke ’em while you can because ban looms

A smoking ban ordinance that would prohibit lighting up in Boulder City’s “enclosed spaces” businesses was reintroduced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting with little discussion.

Bill No. 1718, also known as the Boulder City Smoke Free Air Ordinance, will be discussed before the council July 9, which could vote to implement the ordinance that night. If passed, the measure would become city law 90 days later.

I’m not a smoker. But because so few businesses around town allow smoking, my first response to this is, “Why bother?”

I’ll tell you why people are bothering. Because the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association are dropping into Boulder City like a pack of carpetbaggers trying to get a feather in their cap by picking the lowest-hanging fruit. And this is my biggest problem with the ordinance.

This is not some grass-roots effort, as the measure’s proponents claimed when they first tried this in March 2012. This is these organizations seeking out people in the community to promote the idea, then putting those organizers on the payroll. One former local “organizer” smokes.

No municipalities in the Silver State have such an ordinance now, though the organizations claim Mesquite, Incline Village and Carson City are considering similar ordinances. The paper will be calling these city managers to see how much success the anti-smoking people are finding there.

I said the organizations are “picking low-hanging fruit” by using Boulder City because of what the town doesn’t have.

If the ordinance passes, do you think the anti-smoking advocates will put a big asterisk in their promotional materials touting Boulder City as smoke-free, mentioning we have no casinos, no strip clubs, and only two true bars?

Of course not.

The reason lung-and-heart people are trying to get this through is, on paper, noble. It is mainly, they claim, to protect workers from secondhand smoke: “The stated purpose of the ordinance is to regulate smoking in public places and in places of employment in order to protect the public health and welfare within the jurisdiction of Boulder City.”

Oddly enough, smoking rooms in hotels/motels would not be part of the ban. So if I’m next door to a smoker, I guess that doesn’t matter.

The full ordinance is scheduled to be published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday, so you can read it for yourself.

My reading of the ordinance has the police issuing citations. So while they don’t have the manpower to enforce the new parking ordinance on Nevada Way, they can be saddled with this. My favorite part is “Any citizen who desires to register a complaint … may initiate enforcement with the city of Boulder City.”

How long before I hear the first “somebody’s smoking” call over the police scanner?

Toward the end of the City Council packet are the results of a survey conducted by the lung folks in 2011. It states that “41 percent of people avoid going someplace because they would be exposed to secondhand smoke.”

That means 59 percent don’t care.

To these heart and lung people, I say, “Go take on Vegas and the casinos. Battle the big boys instead of picking fights with the small and largely noninfluential business owners.”

Oh yeah, they already lost that fight.

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