Thursday, August 14, 2008

On the status of the proposed New Albany workplace smoking ban.

On August 4, New Albany’s city council passed the first reading of an indoor smoking ordinance.

The vote was 5-4, and two more readings are required, with the tally on the third being the final determinant. If vetoed, an overturn would require six votes. The council intends to vote for both second and third readings on August 21.

Those are the bare facts, and in terms of legislative politics, this is a topic better considered in depth at my other blog. Accordingly, here are a few links to it (two written by me and one by my blogging partner Jeff) and another piece I wrote at the request of the New Albany Tribune.

Council smoking farce: I'm taking it personally, too.

If you've been a slumlord for more than 100 years, are you exempt? (by Jeff Gillenwater)

Doesn’t New Albany have more important issues?

Hypocrisy meter nudges "tilt” as council’s smoking ordinance is revealed.

As we await the shoddy melodramatics to come, end games must be considered. What do we do at the pizzeria and pub if the ban comes to pass?

At work yesterday, we took a few minutes to pace 20 feet from the public entry doors. On the pizza side, smoking patrons can exit the rear door into the back yard, which we’ve intended for some time to convert into permanent outdoor seating. Short-term, we’d have to put down a hard surface and build a roof. Longer-term, we could dust off the old conversion plan and extend both along the length of the building, but equipment, and be in the business of outdoor seating.

On the pub side, it’s more complicated. The rear fire exit is behind the bar, and Indiana state alcohol law forbids customers from using it except in emergency situations. Cigarette breaks for pub denizens will have to be accessed from the front door, within an area to be constructed in front of the Prost windows. It's imperfect.

Currently, we have smoking and non-smoking areas at the pub. Because of customer demand, the non-smoking area has gotten larger over the years, and in general terms, most customers have at least seemed satisfied by the arrangement. We’ve yet to have an employee complain about being forced to work in smoke, but if so, we'd certainly try to accommodate the request.

The preceding is intended as raw information. My public stance on the matter may seem unusual to some, although to me, it reflects the best possible resolution of a deep personal division, and I’m content with that because life is rarely black and white.

We’ll see what happens next.

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