Matthew Lippman runs a restaurant & bar across the street from the state capitol. He says it's been frustrating watching lawmakers wrestle with a bill to enact the workplace smoking ban voters approved last fall.
“We just want them to just come out and say, this is what we want, and we're going to follow the law they state, but it's just a little confusing to decide how we're going to handle this July 1,” says Lippman.
Even outdoor smoking on patios was up in the air.
“The latest version of the bill does allow smoking on outdoor patios of restaurants, but there are some other new exemptions that have health groups up in arms,”
They include airport smoking rooms, VFW halls and fraternal organizations, even exemptions for TV, movie and video filming. The American Heart Association says another exemption that lets smokers light up anywhere if it's part of a program to quit smoking is ridiculous.
“Very few, if any, viable smoking cessation programs actually involve smoking. Most smoking cessation programs involve not smoking,” says Patrick Kennedy.
Even Senate President Jim King sounded a little frustrated that this bill has turned into such a boondoggle, but the man he's referring to says the only sticking point now is a $200 fee the no-new taxes house wants to pass on to stand-alone bars to pay for enforcement.
The smoking ban bill will be up for a final vote Tuesday, but with a handful of contentious issues still in play, lawmakers may have to return in another special session to finish the job.