After weeks of discussion, the decision to ban smoking in downtown Burlington fell into the hands of Mayor Bob Kiss who chose to veto the bill City Council approved on Jan. 9. The fight, however, is not over. City Councilor, Joan Shannon, said she would try and persuade the council to override the mayor’s decision, according to the Burlington Free Press.
“Eighty-six percent of our population doesn’t smoke, so why should 100 percent of our air space be given over to smokers?” Shannon said to Fox News.
Kiss wrote in his veto message that the current ban is bad for everyone.
“The smoking ordinance opens the door to difficult, inconsistent and selective enforcement by law enforcement officers,” Kiss stated.
Smoking was banned within the area between Winooski Avenue and Pearl Street, as well as by King and Pine streets between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Outdoor restaurants and cafes, as well as private alleyways, are exempt from the ban.
Because of this, Kiss stated that the ordinance “riddles” the restrictions with too many exceptions and “assumes too large an area for non-smoking.”
Shannon is a chief supporter of the ban and intends to get the ten votes needed in order to override the veto from a few city council members who may be persuaded to change their minds.
The Health Department may be trying to get people to quit smoking, but that is not the angle the ban is implying, Shannon said.
“The problem isn’t with the smokers as people, but with smoking and how it affects others who choose not to smoke,” she said.
The goal of the smoking ban is to make smoking avoidable for those who do not smoke and do not want smoking imposed on their health, Shannon said. Sweetwaters owner David Melincoff, a libertarian, said he thinks there is too much government interference in general involving the restrictions.
“On the other hand, for nonsmokers, I get how people don’t want to be around it,” Melincoff said. “There are 50 sides to an issue.”
First-year student McKayla Mulhern said she feels as though the ban would infringe upon her civil liberties.
“I think it’s ridiculous to try to ban smoking,” she said. “People should be free to do what they want with their own body.”