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Smokescreen for input

Was the mayor-appointed Ad Hoc Committee on Lakewood's smoke-free ordinance and community-input process nothing but a smokescreen?

During a City Council study session Feb. 6, the mayor and majority of the Lakewood council rejected almost all the recommendations of its own Ad Hoc Committee and never fully considered and discussed the proposal from the community coalition.

Instead they assured that the drafted ordinance will propose only minimal improvements in Lakewood's tobacco control ordinance. 

After a 30-month process, the only significant change to the current law that the mayor and City Council are proposing is the expansion of the smoke-free perimeter around some doorways from 15 feet to 25 feet, exempting restaurant and bar patio areas.

With thumbs-down votes, they ignored the committee's recommendations to prohibit smoking in all tobacco retail businesses (thus protecting workers and neighboring tenants) and one that would prohibit smoking in all outdoor seating areas of restaurants and bars (thus protecting patrons and workers from the harmful chemicals in secondhand smoke).

Instead, their proposed ordinance reflects the sentiments expressed in a letter sent from the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) sent just days before the meeting. (The CRA has a history of working with the tobacco industry to try to stop local communities from adopting smoke-free laws.)

This smokescreen of a process is an outrageous betrayal of the civic-input process. It betrayed the Ad Hoc Committee members' devotion to fashioning reasonable protections from secondhand smoke, the people of Lakewood who spoke out and also informed us through their survey responses and, most of all, they betrayed the democratic process.  

If the mayor and majority of council prevail with their watered-down ordinance, the clear winners will be tobacco and the tobacco industry.

The losers will be the residents and workers who will still have to breathe tobacco smoke at work or in some public places.

Walter ‘Snip’ Young
February 29, 2012

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