City Council Amends Smoking Ban

by K2 News Desk, 
    Xavier Walton, 
Smoking will once again be allowed in Casper bars. Casper City Council on Tuesday night voted 5-4 to amend the city's controversial smoking ban. 
Under the amendments, bars, lounges, and healthcare facilities will be exempt from the smoking ban. Similar establishments will also be exempt from the ordinance. 
The amended ban will take effect after it is published on June 28th. At that point, opponents of the amended ban will have the opportunity to start the referendum process. 
Smokefree Natrona County plans on leading a petition drive to repeal the amended ban. Once the amended ban is published, the organization will have 20 days to collect 2,465 signatures. That number represents 10% of all voters who went to the polls during the 2012 election. If enough signatures are collected, a special election will be held at the end of August. 
Smokefree Natrona County spokeswoman Kimberly Holloway says she's confident that the group will collect enough signatures to force a referendum. Holloway says the group "expects to do better" than the minimum 2,465 signatures. 
Tuesday night's third and final reading of the amended ban came nearly a year after the initial version of the smoking ban was passed by City Council. The ban went into effect in September of 2012 after months of community debate. An effort to repeal the ban by public vote failed to gather enough signatures to get it onto the November 2012 ballot. 
Some bar owners have since claimed that the ban has hurt their business and has pushed customers to other establishments outside city limits.