Sunday, October 11, 2009

From Wash. to Pa., smoking bans spark backlash

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - From West Virginia to the West Coast, smokers are trying to fend off further restrictions on their habit, and local officials are starting to listen.

In some cases, smoking bans have even been rescinded or postponed - including in the city of Spokane.

Opponents of smoking restrictions say these rollbacks are largely driven by economic woe, with local governments wary of imposing new costs or business burdens on restaurants and bars that may already be struggling.

"The economy is in a slump, and these bans almost always hurt the shot-and-beer-type bars and some restaurants," said Gary Nolan, U.S. regional director of the Citizens Freedom Alliance, which opposes laws that restrict smoking.

"If times are trying now in the hospitality industry, you're compounding that by telling bar owners they can't cater to their own crowd," he said.