Proposed Billings smoking ban draws ire from business owners

Originally published in the 6/30/17 newspaper print edition of Yellowstone County News.

BILLINGS — Business owners testified at a public hearing last week that a proposed rule by the city-county health department – RiverStone Health — could have a devastating impact on businesses in the City of Billings and Yellowstone County.

Many of those business owners lined up to object to second-hand smoke restrictions during a public hearing last week before the County Board of Health saying, “it is overreach” in attempting to reduce the public’s exposure to second-hand smoke and e-cigarette vapors.

The proposed regulation places a ban on indoor vaping (smoking e-cigarettes) and restricts outdoor smoking within 30 feet of entrance doors, windows and ventilation systems of public buildings, including privately-owned businesses, in order to “protect the public from direct and indirect exposure to smoke.”

The Board of Health proclaims that it is advancing the regulations as is expected of the agency to Ready full story in print edition or by subscribing here online.

One comment on “Proposed Billings smoking ban draws ire from business owners

  1. Two weeks ago Bobbi Hunter who represents the local tavern association in Billings stated in a local publication”Banning a nuisance because you don’t like it sets a dangerous precedent.” Ms. Hunter may represent the local tavern association well, however, it is clear that she doesn’t have a grasp on how lethal smoking and secondhand smoke is on the non-smoking public which compose 84% of the Yellowstone County population. By referring to smoking as a nuisance rather than acknowledging that it is an addiction with lethal and toxic consequences for the user and those near them should be clear to all that Ms. Hunter doesn’t understand the significance of the proposed Rule 7.

    Unfortunately smoking tobacco products is still a legal behavior but that does not shield society from taking every feasible step to protect exposure to the carcinogenic residue of the product. If by prohibiting smoking in areas within the stipulated 30 feet restricts smoking in certain areas that should always be secondary to the health and safety of Yellowstone County pedestrians. Ms. Hunter seems to be concerned for tavern operators being responsible for people smoking outside of their premises (public sidewalks) but is there much difference in the concern for intoxicated or rowdy patrons outside their immediate premises? If this and similar legislation results in more Yellowstone County individuals quitting smoking then this would be a win-win situation.