People Ban: NM Farmington


New Mexico Farmington Update

City considers changes to smoking ban

July 14, 2006
Nathan Gonzalez
FARMINGTON — After another two hours of public discussion, city councilors are now considering amendments to a proposed smoking ban — including one that would affect bars within Farmington.
The council is considering a proposed amendment to its current Clean Indoor Air ordinance, which would ban smoking in most public places. The current proposal excludes bars.
Following two recent public discussion meetings — including one Tuesday — some councilors are now considering extending the ban to include bars.
The proposed ban would also forbid smoking in all places of employment. Former City Councilor Kenneth Shields, a certified public accountant who smokes regularly in his office, advised the current council not to strip people of their civil rights.
“One of the dumbest things I’ve ever done in my life is start smoking,” Shields said. “(But) telling me I cannot use a perfectly legal product on my private property crosses their authority.”
City Councilor George Sharpe proposed that businesses let their employees decide to go smoke-free.
“I come down squarely in the middle,” Sharpe said of the ongoing debate about the proposed ban.
“I feel every employee has a right to work in an environment that’s healthy and that includes a smoke-free environment,” Sharpe said. “At the same time, I don’t know if it’s government’s place to mandate good health.”
Sharpe recommended an exemption be made for “smoke-tolerant workplaces.” The title would allow employees to decide whether smoking should be permitted at their workplaces.
However, the exemption would require a 100-percent approval among employees.
City Councilor Mary Fischer was not willing to support any proposed changes to the current smoking ban without ample time to review them.
“I am not comfortable making any decision spur of the moment, shoot from the hip,” Fischer said.
Rather than making changes to the proposed ban now, the council agreed to put their recommendations in writing, which will be inserted by City Attorney Jay Burnham and discussed again Aug. 8.
The council’s plans for a final vote Aug. 22 has since been pushed back to a later date.
During the council’s June 27 meeting, Councilor Jason Sandel suggested the city remove the exemption of bars from the smoking ban. Tuesday evening, Councilor Dan Darnell agreed saying he was now leaning toward a total ban.
Darnell added that allowing employees to decide would complicate the ordinance.
“We could complicate this to the point that no one would understand it,” he said.
The proposed amendment to the city’s Clean Indoor Air Ordinance would ban smoking in bingo facilities, places of employment, retail stores and shopping malls, public and private educational facilities and licensed child and adult day cares.
Smoking would also be banned from public facilities and lobbies, hallways and other common areas in apartment buildings, condos or other multi-unit residential facilities.
Libertarian party member Joseph Knight suggested the council scrap plans for a ban, stating city officials would label smokers as “criminals.”
“A private business is not community property,” Knight said. “A private business owner shouldn’t have to get permission to run his own business.”
Resident Bob Browning said he smoked heavily for 10 years and relied on chewing tobacco when he couldn’t smoke. He said he quit 55 years ago.
“At that point in time, I was pretty much a slave to tobacco,” Browning said. “Smoking is optional. If they can’t not smoke for 30 minutes or an hour, eating in a public restaurant … we do have some slaves.”

Proposed ban would allow smoke tolerant workplaces’

By Nathan Gonzalez, The Daily Times
Aug. 8, 2006

FARMINGTON — A revised smoking ban heading toward approval Aug. 22 will prohibit smoking in bars, but would allow “smoke tolerant workplaces.”
Before the council’s last meeting on Tuesday, the proposed ordinance permitted smoking in bars. However, by meeting’s end, the council removed the exemption.
“I feel the need to remove the exclusion for bars,” said Councilor George Sharpe.
Councilors Jason Sandel and Dan Darnell agreed. Councilor Mary Fischer abstained from that vote and others as the council considered additional amendments to the proposed changes to the city’s Clean Indoor Air Ordinance.
Fischer said she refused to partake in the Tuesday discussion because she didn’t get the answers she requested, such as procedures for testing air quality and how long after leaving a smoking area the air is safe to breathe. She posed the questions at the council’s July 11 meeting.
“Tonight I will not be joining in the conversation,” Fischer said, adding that the ordinance is slowly banning smoking in all public areas in the city. “I am a bit concerned with the direction this is taking.”
The proposed ordinance would ban smoking in most public areas including bingo facilities, places of employment, retail stores and shopping malls, public and private educational facilities and licensed child and adult day cares.
Smoking also would be banned from public convention facilities such as the Farmington Civic Center and lobbies, hallways and other common areas in apartment buildings, condos or other multi-unit residential facilities.
However, the council approved a change to the proposed ordinance that permits “smoke tolerant workplaces.”
“I do not feel it is my place to tell them they can’t” smoke if all the employees agree to it, Sharpe said. “I think it’s a reasonable middle ground.”
Darnell “vehemently disagreed” with permitting employees to determine whether to allow smoking in the workplace, saying it would “open up a can of worms” and complicate the smoking ban.
“If we are going to (pass a ban), we’ve got to do it,” Darnell said.
Smoke tolerant workplaces would be required to obtain a certificate from the clerk’s office.
The council will select one of two versions of the proposed smoking ordinance at its Aug. 22 meeting. Both would allow smoke tolerant workplaces, although one will require the approval of 100 percent of business employees and the other 90 percent.
Under Sandel’s recommendation, which requires 90 percent approval by employees, a certificate would be granted following a secret ballot vote, which would be filed by with City Clerk’s Office.
The council is expected to take a final vote on the proposed smoking ban at 7 p.m. Aug. 22 at City Hall, 800 Municipal Dr. Copies of the proposed ban will be provided.
Nathan Gonzalez:

Farmington continues debate over smoking ban


The Farmington City Council has agreed to publish an amendment to Farmington’s clean indoor air ordinance.

The measure would prohibit smoking in most public locations and places of employment.

The council has scheduled a public discussion on the proposal for July 11th. It plans to make a final decision in August.

Supporters contend that the ban would protect Farmington residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

The amendment would prohibit smoking in hotels, places of employment, retail stores, shopping malls and day care centers.

Excluded would be bars where more than 50 percent of the revenues are generated through alcohol sales.

Several other New Mexico cities, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, have smoking bans.

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