SB229 passed the Alabama Senate on Wednesday, April 30th, 2008. The smoking ban now awaits a House vote which we at FORCES shall watch closely. The great state of Alabama has taken a bow toward special interest groups that infest our legislative systems. SB229 is mild as compared with some bans we’ve seen in other areas. Tobacco shops, cigar bars, private clubs, and other bars that sell little food would still be able to permit smoking, as would nursing homes in designated rooms. Nevertheless the ban would apply extensively including at restaurants. A similar proposal passed through a House committee recently. A vote from the full House membership is required to enact the law. It’s not clear yet as to whether the ban will pass in the House.
If it does, predictably, many niche restaurants with a considerable smoking clientèle will be closing their doors, ceding what remains of their customer base to the big corporate chains that survive on mass volume. This is what has happened elsewhere under the same circumstance.
As also has happened in many areas, many Alabamans who would oppose the ban remain largely ignorant of what is being cooked up, while antitobacco activists have been working vigorously for years. A few of us here in Alabama have actively opposed ban encroachment by speaking at council meetings, by contacting our representatives, by appearing in televised interviews, and by filing a lawsuit one year ago, which was never ruled on. If a suit is unpopular, apparently, Alabaman judges just ignore it and don’t bother ever ruling.
It is said that Alabama would be the 26th state to go "smoke-free." Many state bans include exceptions such as those proposed here so the claim of 26 smoke-free states may be overstated. Nevertheless these are pathetic times for the causes of rational policy and freedom. This is intolerable. We must increase our activism to re-instate our rights.