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WYO Smokefree Bill Stubbed Out by the Clock

March 9, 2009

Cheyenne, WY – A smoke-free bill that would have banned indoor smoking in public places to protect public health has run out of time, even if legislators were to get back the extra hour Daylight Savings eliminated Sunday morning. HB 31 has no chance of resuscitation before the session ended, a coalition of health groups says.

The original proposal, which would have protected service workers and others from toxic secondhand smoke on the job, came about because of strong public support, Judy Catchpole with Smokefree Wyoming says.

"Different polls in the state have shown that 60 percent to 80 percent of Wyoming citizens want comprehensive smoke-free legislation passed."

Opponents of the bill say its passage would have hurt revenues at bars and some restaurants. Catchpole counters that research on smoke-free laws adopted by other states shows that has not happened there. Smoke-free laws already are on the books at the local level in Albany and Laramie counties, Evanston and Manderson, and Catchpole expects more local laws to be passed this year.

Those fighting smoke-free laws often focus on the rights of private-property owners to do what they want with their property, but Catchpole says that issue is trumped by another one.

"Property rights are important, but the Constitution also says the legislature has the responsibility to protect the health of Wyoming citizens."

Smokefree Wyoming is a broad-based coalition of health groups including the Wyoming Hospital Association, Wyoming Medical Society, Wyoming Nurses Association, March of Dimes, American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.


Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY