The majority of Casper’s City Council has said it favors tweaking or repealing the city’s five-month old smoking ban despite a failed referendum aimed at overturning it, following claims from some businesses that they’ve lost revenue. Only two council members are in favor of keeping the ban as is, including the mayor. Four council members who previously supported the ban are no longer in office.
Smokefree Natrona County advocate Anna Edwards says that a temporary decrease in revenue following a ban is normal, and is to be expected.
“In my opinion this is just a rehash of things that have already been discussed and hammered out over the four months and hours and hours of discussion that happened previous to the state ordinance being passed. I didn’t really hear any new arguments or concerns at the meeting.”
Edwards adds that there could be additional reasons for the decrease—including new five new restaurants in town.
City Councilman Paul Bertoglio agrees with that possibility, though he has opposed the ban from its inception. He says while he would support a state-wide smoking ban, a city-wide ban pulls business from Casper into surrounding areas.
“The restaurants really were never gonna be impacted, their businesses are being impacted more by new businesses being opened and there’s more to choose from,” says Bertoglio, “The place where it’s having the most dramatic impact is on our private clubs and the bars that have direct competition in Mills and Evansville.”
Bertoglio says he would move to modify the ban to exclude pool halls, private mechanic and welding shops, and nursing homes.