The only people allowed to puff in the new Jazz arena next fall will be weary players.
With a wary eye toward a group of angry smokers, team officials said this week that they will continue a ban on smoking when they open the team's new arena - the same as a recently enacted policy in the Salt Palace.But at least one season-ticket holder, Wilma Wardlow, said she will do her best to get a designated smoking area in the new building. If the team forces her outside to light up, the way the Salt Palace now does, she will cancel her tickets.
Wardlow has the signatures of 450 other people who feel the same way. Most of them signed her petition while standing outside during halftimes of recent games.
"I don't think there's a smoker walking who feels they should have to walk all the way outside," Wardlow said. "I can appreciate it not being allowed in the arena itself, and I also think it shouldn't be allowed around the concessions, the way it was."
But now she feels like a second-class citizen.
Dave Allred, Jazz vice president of public relations, said the team will continue the ban in the new arena. But officials have yet to decide whether to designate a smoking area somewhere in the building.
Allred said the team is sensitive to the threat of canceled season tickets.
"We're not like L.A.," he said. "We realize we have a finite number of potential season-ticket holders. We hope people will realize this is an issue of health."
The Salt Palace banned smoking after receiving a stern letter from Salt Lake City-County Health Director Dr. Harry Gibbons. After receiving several complaints from fans, Gibbons decided to remind county officials that state law prohibits smoking in a public arena. While smoking was not allowed in the arena, it was allowed in the concession lobby that is open to the arena.
Salt Palace officials admit is was hard to tell the smoke not to cross the line.
"The negative health effects of environmental tobacco smoke are now so well-documented that the Health Department cannot continue to give extensions in such a hopeless situation," Gibbons wrote in a letter to the County Commission.
Salt Palace officials so far believe the policy is overwhelmingly popular. They note that fans applaud when the policy is announced before each game.
"Our concession workers were ecstatic," said Salt Palace manager David Meek, himself a smoker. "I thought it was kind of ironic that the smoking area was next to the yogurt stand."
Undaunted, Wardlow plans to bring her petition to the playoffs, and she hopes the team wins enough games for her to collect more names. She then will present the petition to the team and hope for a response.
If she doesn't get results, she may do more than cancel her tickets.
"Over the last 10 years I've bought seven cars. Five of them have been from (Jazz owner and car dealer) Larry H. Miller," she said. "If I have to go outside to smoke, I won't buy another car from him. I feel that strongly about it."