State Smoking Ban Back in the Hot Seat

Lawmakers will take another look at the workplace smoking ban today, though observers predict the health-inspired law that started 14 months ago to jeers from puffers around the state won’t change.
Some bills up for consideration by the joint Public Health Committee would extend the smoking ban by including parks and beaches, while others would scale back the ban and allow some bargoers to light up again.
Yet state Rep. Peter Koutoujian, (D-Waltham), House chairman of the committee, predicts there isn’t momentum on Beacon Hill to tweak the once-controversial law right now in either direction.
“By all reports the smoking ban has been widely successful,” Koutoujian said.
The Harvard School of Public Health released a report earlier this year that found bars and other hospitality venues actually saw slightly higher sales overall during the first six months of the smoking ban.
“I think it’s become a much more enjoyable situation for the guests,” said Steve Uliss, owner of Firefly’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que and Beyond in Marlboro and Framingham, who said he lost no business because of the smoking ban.
Yet state Rep. Marie Parente, (D-Milford), said smaller establishments in her district have suffered since the smoking ban started.
She has a bill before the Public Health committee today to give communities the right to exempt bars that can demonstrate a 15 percent loss of business since the smoking ban started on July 5, 2004.
Other smoking ban-related bills before the Public Health Committee would allow smoking in establishments while Beano is being played.
Originally written By: Emelie Rutherford
MetroWest Daily News
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