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News Summary

Smoking ban advances through House committee

Publication Date: 2005-03-30
  • Author:John Zicconi
  • Publication:The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus
MONTPELIER – The Vermont House took its first significant step Tuesday toward banning smoking in all public places, including bars and private clubs.

The House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee voted 7-1 to close a 12-year-old loophole in the state's Clean Indoor Air Act, which banned smoking in restaurants but made exceptions for taverns that made more than 50 percent of their revenue from alcohol and private clubs.

Anti-smoking advocates always knew they had support from House Democrats, but were overjoyed when two of the committee's three Republicans also voted in favor of the ban.

"The train has left the station," said Theresa Cassiack, a spokeswoman for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, one of about 80 members of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont. "It looks like they want to be leaders and lead in the direction of public sentiment."

A recent poll shows about 78 percent of Vermonters support a smoking ban in bars. Four municipalities – Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski and Williston – have already instituted a ban.