May 17, 2012 (Montgomery, AL) — In Alabama, the recent crusade against smokers and public smoking has hit a wall, it seems. Thanks to the efforts of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), other industry trade groups, and IPCPR retail members, Senate Bill 198 has been postponed indefinitely in committee. With the adjournment of session the issue is at rest, at least until next year.
The bill, which was introduced by Senator Vivian Figures, would have banned smoking in almost all public places: inside of bars and restaurants, outdoor seating and serving areas of bars and restaurants, outdoor bleachers and grandstands, hotels, motels, retail stores, schools, playgrounds and sports arenas.
Bill Spann, the CEO of the IPCPR, said “Alabamans will continue to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness unfettered by those who seek to limit the basic rights of American citizens. The question going forward is ‘do Alabama’s business owners want them spending their money at Alabama shops, restaurants and bars, or going where they are welcome?'”
“It should be left to the discretion of each business owner whether or not they wish to allow smoking in their establishment,” Spann added. “We’re put on a slippery slope when the government begins micro-managing businesses and personal decisions,” Spann said.
However, Senator Figures was taking it one step further by not merely banning smoking, but ostracizing smokers themselves. The bill would have also banned smoking near any of those locations by prohibiting it within 15 feet of an entrance, exit, window or ventilation intake of a building.
“Hopefully citizens are realizing that these smoking bans are more than just a ban on tobacco products,” said Chris McCalla, Legislative Director for the IPCPR, “they are an infringement on our rights by taking the choice away from the consumer and putting it in the hands of the government.”