Fort Collins City Council apparently was just blowing smoke when compromising on the very divisive, recently passed smoking ban.
When the proposal was originally written, it would have banned all businesses from allowing smoking. The proposal changed after the first reading and would have allowed businesses where alcohol sales were above 25 percent to allow smoking.
We thought that was the right decision on the council’s part because this issue was so evenly divided between supporters and the opposition in the city.
We saw it as a wise compromise.
But right before winter break, the moods of the council changed from compromise to absolute. The ordinance passed on Dec. 17, 2002 and now all places, expect for bingo parlors and bowling alleys, cannot allow patrons to smoke.
Our View participants cannot all agree whether the city should prioritize the autonomy of private businesses, or whether the priority should be protecting patrons and employees. Because we couldn’t agree, we thought this issue should have been compromised, which it was not.
Chicago is currently thinking about passing a similar smoking ban. Mike Ditka, former Chicago Bears football coach and current downtown Chicago bar owner, recently appeared on Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, and the two came up with a few good ideas Fort Collins could have, or still could use in order to be more fair.
O’Reilly said making employees sign a waiver acknowledging the potential dangers of secondhand smoke would help remedy the concern for employees. And, at the owners’ expense, the business could have a big sign announcing to potential patrons that the place is a smoking establishment. That would allow customers to make informed decisions.
Maybe these compromises wouldn’t work for Fort Collins, but some compromise needs to be reconsidered before this ordinance takes effect Oct. 1.