Smoke-Free Debate Heats Up

Smoke-Free Debate Heats Up »Play Video
OLYMPIA - Washington is edging closer to a total ban on smoking in public places.

A recent survey shows 65% of residents favor that ban.

But several business owners say they are edging closer to being forced out.

Everything about Olympia's Spar Cafe, Bar, and Tobacco Merchant says smoke.

Since the mid 1930's the Spar has been swirling in smoke. But that could soon chance if the legislature passes a total smoking ban.

Proponents of the bill say this is the way the world is going. New York City, the State of California have implemented a total ban on smoking in public places.

Even in Ireland, where a pint and a cigarette have long gone hand in hand, the government recently announced that it will ban smoking from all workplaces, including pubs, effective next Jan. 1.

But the Spar's owner is telling lawmakers there are already plenty of smoke-free restaurants locals can choose from.

"I know of eight within a two block radius where they've never had smoking. The choices are already out there, so I don't think this needs to be legislated any further." says Spar owner Alan McWain.

But lawmakers are moving ahead with compelling testimony from second hand smoke sufferers.

Florence La-Dene-Leader now breathes with the help of an oxygen tank. "Second hand smoke is deadly to a person with a lung disease. I have had 35% of each lung removed, and now I am looking at having a lung transplant all because of second hand smoke."

"For me personally I can't go out in public anymore, like to bowling alleys with my friends," says teenager Stephana Pasowicz. Her medical condition leaves her gasping for air when she's near second hand smoke.

One restaurant manager says they actually gained business when they went smoke free. "Now that we've gone non-smoking the lodge is rocking just as much as the rest of the restaurant" says Sara Watson.

But the owner of Seattle's Blue Moon Tavern says the total ban in California forced 1,000 restaurants out of business. "This is a misguided bill it will not solve the problems, it will make them worse, " says tavern owner Gustav Hellphaler

"It will probably pretty much out us out of business," says fellow tavern owner Dion Denny-Berg. She thinks in an attempt to clear the air lawmakers are snuffing out livlihoods.

The bill is expected to be voted on in the next three days.