Republican Rep. Paul Ray was passing out "Build Legacy Now" stickers touting the Legacy Parkway. Self-described nightlife guru Angela Saxby was handing out cards promoting her Web site "SLCparty.com your key to Salt Lake City nightlife."
Needless to say it was an eclectic group that gathered at several downtown watering holes Friday to promote private clubs that prohibit patrons from smoking inside their doors.
The promotion was sponsored by the Utah Department of Health and included unlikely political allies like Ray, R-Clinton; Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, and Democratic Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. The group traveled to three smoke-free private clubs the Oyster Bar, the Red Door and the Tavernacle Friday afternoon to tout Salt Lake City's second-annual "Smoke-Free Salt Lake City" campaign.
All three politicians maintain smoking indoors has adverse health impacts on workers who spend eight- and 10-hour shifts navigating through secondhand smoke. Currently Utah law allows smoking in private clubs Utah's version of liquor-serving bars but not in restaurants or other public places.
Waddoups noted the state requires its inspectors to enter the establishments and face the dangers of secondhand smoke and once again called for legislation that would ban smoking in private clubs.
Ray said he and his wife used to visit an Ogden night club because she loved singing karaoke. However, her voice began to deteriorate, and her doctor told her it was because of the secondhand smoke she was inhaling during her performances.
In Clinton, Ray successfully pushed for a ban on smoking in most areas of the city's public parks. Still, his state colleagues in the House didn't approve non-smoking legislation this session.
Waddoups' bill, which would have banned smoking in all Utah private clubs, passed the Senate by one vote but never came up for debate in the House.
Anti-smoking advocates, then, have some lobbying to do.
Bob Brown, owner of Cheers To You and vice president of the Utah Hospitality Association, maintains private clubs should be able to decide for themselves whether to go smoke-free. If politicians are so concerned about the health hazards of smoking they should make all smoking illegal. But politicians are unwilling to go that far because they would lose tax revenue from cigarette sales, Brown said.Comment on this story
Smoke-free bar owners and managers maintain they are doing better business by being smokeless and providing a healthier environment for their workers.
"A lot of people told us we would never make it if we were smoke-free, but it's done nothing but help us," Red Door owner Louise Hanning said.
Ditto, said Oyster Bar general manager Mark Robbins, whose businesses is booming since the bar went smoke-free in February."People are coming up to shake my hand and thanking us and saying 'way to go.' "