Urbana Council’s Bozo Debate on Smoking Ordinance

Letter published in News-Gazette June 2006

Whether or not one supports the smoking restrictions passed by our local city councils, this issue again demonstrates Urbana’s congenital inconsequence and incompetence. Despite near unanimous Urbana Council support for the smoking ban, the Council awaited Champaign to act first. Urbana, as an economic pipsqueak compared to Savoy and Champaign, can rarely take initiative on important issues.

The two smoking ordinance amendments passed at the June 5 Urbana Council meeting reaffirm Urbana’s inability to make sound strategic decisions compared to Champaign and Savoy.

The amendment “requiring” a designated outside non-smoking area of a non-specified size ensures non-smokers will enjoy a tiny, solitary outdoor table in a most undesirable corner. An intelligent council (like Champaign’s) would unequivocally either ban or allow outdoor area smoking, rather than include a useless provision.

The specious argument that barkeepers need additional time to reconfigure their facilities hoodwinked Urbana’s inept council into a second amendment–delaying the smoking ban in bars for several months. (Two Urbana Bozos can fit on a pin’s tip for every Urbana bar that will make ban-related renovations.) This strategically unwise delay gives the anti-ban brigade several months to reverse or dilute Champaign’s ordinance.

Ultimately the non-smoking debate confronts those wanting to simultaneously smoke and drink against those who may want to drink, eat and/or listen to live music sans harassment by tobacco smoke. A solution creating establishments for both constituencies is to allow smoking only in bars that neither have kitchens nor ever charge more than a $1 cover fee.

Michael Fuerst


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