The two sides — for and against a smoking ban — have been sitting through the routine prayers and proclamations at City Council meetings for several months now just in case smoking comes up. And the pro and con folks have also filled up the public comment agenda — that slice of time the council dedicates to listening to just about anyone talk about just about anything at the beginning of their meeting.
Now it appears the Big Day has come. The Council is finally poised to discuss and vote on a smoking ban. And everyone seems to expect a showdown. Clean Air Wichita, for example, announced by e-mail that speakers from the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, a local health care group and their leaders will be at the meeting. They oppose the ban because they say it doesn’t go far enough — they want something that bans smoking at all businesses, not just food service businesses.
The votes line-up in favor of the compromised ban — the critical four votes being Mayor Carl Brewer and council members Lavonta Williams, Sharon Fearey and Jeff Longwell. But all things political can change. Some of those most actively opposing the ban couldn’t be reached early Monday afternoon for this post about who’s showing up at the meeting. But if history is a guide, those opposing the ban will show up in force as well.
The council meeting starts at 9 a.m. The ban is number 12a on the agenda, meaning the discussion probably (no promises here) won’t start until after 9:30 a.m. — if not 10 or 10:30 a.m. The proposal would ban smoking anywhere that kids under age 18 are, which means most restaurants will be smoke-free unless they have a smoking room that, among other caveats, has its own ventilation. The bars, meanwhile, could just card folks at the door to make sure they’re older than 18 and post a sign outside to warn folks that the air may not be so pure inside.
The full proposed law can be found on page 269 of the PDF council agenda.