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Massachusetts Citizens for Freedom

Barnstable Leaves Smoking Ban Intact

3/17/00
Cape Cod Times, pg 3.

HYANNIS - Two hundred bars and restaurants must go smoke-free on April 3, after a resolution to weaken the Board of Health's total ban failed to win approval from the Barnstable Town Council last night.

Councilor Gary Brown brought the resolution forward on behalf of several bar owners who were upset by the smoking ban adopted last month by the Board of Health. Brown's measure asked that the ban be adopted through "voluntary acts of owners and patrons" over a gradual period of time.

The council voted 6-4, with Councilor Richard Clark abstaining, to reject the resolution.

The failed attempt in Barnstable comes two weeks after the New Bedford Board of Health watered down its near-total smoking ban after public protests. Now New Bedford bars and restaurants have the option of putting in a smoking section.

Hoping for a similar action, the Windjammer Lounge and several unnamed bar owners hired Osterville attorney Edward Kirk to argue their case. Kirk said the ban came after less than a month of public debate. He said such a ruling constitutes legislative action and should therefore be decided by the lawmakers - that is, the town council - and not the board of health.

Barnstable's town attorney, Robert Smith, said the councilors could adopt an ordinance taking the control of smoking rules away from the Board of Health. But he said he would not recommend a power grab. He said it would create an unnecessary "side show" to the issue at hand.

But four councilors, who voted to adopt Brown's resolve, stated that government had overstepped its bounds by passing the ban.

Both Brown and Councilor Richard Erick admitted their fathers died early as a result of smoking. "Yet it's a philosophical opinion on how much government should intrude in our lives," Elrick said.

Brown said the ban harms the working class.

He said a mug of beer and a cigarette in a less-upscale tavern is "Florida" to many people. Those who go to the Paddock, for example, can also afford a real Florida vacation.

"Class is the issue here," he said. "Like it or not, that's a complete truism."

Bill Silverryder, president of the Nam Vets Association, said his group stands to lose a good chunk of the $25,000 to $35,000 it makes each year in bingo. He said many bingo players "are ready to walk" if the ban goes through.

Charles Thomas, manager of the VFW in Hyannis, said, "The veterans thought they were living in a society free of these restrictions."

But six councilors rejected those arguments in favor of the hours of work, and nearly five years of hearings, that led to the Board of Health's decision.

"I don't want to undermine the Board of Health," said Joseph Pino. "It will take the town apart."


Massachusetts Citizens for Freedom


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