Widespread Smoking Ban Considered in State Legislature

Published 03/25 2014 06:22PM

Updated 03/25 2014 06:46PM

MONTPELIER - The list of places where you can smoke in Vermont might be getting shorter.

A bill working its way through the State Legislature would ban smoking in many new places, including any indoor location where the public has access. That includes offices, restaurants, stores, businesses and any sort of lodging, like a hotel or motel. Most hotels are already voluntarily smoke-free, but others like the Quality Inn in Colchester still offer smoking rooms. Those would be banned under this bill.

The ban would extend to certain outdoor locations as well, like within 25 feet of state offices and hospitals.The Vermont Veteran's Home would be the only exception to that. It would also prohibit smoking outside child care facilities or on public school grounds, or at public school events.

Finally, the bill would ban smoking in cars with children of car-seat age. That was a last-minute amendment when the bill passed the House of Representatives. Tuesday, pediatricians spoke to a senate panel about the effect of secondhand smoke on children.

"He actually had to have a breathing tube put down into his lungs," said Delia Horn, a pediatric resident at Fletcher Allen. "He was hospitalized in our intensive car unit for a week."

Burlington resident Todd Lacroix has smoked for 20 years, and has slowly watched the number of places he can do so dwindle.

"I used to smoke in the bars around here, and now you can't," he remarked.

Shawn Gero, another smoker, was outraged by the additional potential restrictions.

"Who cares if we smoke, where we smoke?" he said. "They're our lungs, we want to pollute them, it's our choice," he said.

But Justin Thayer disagrees. Also a smoker, he says being around smoke as a child is probably why he smokes now.

"I felt that my father smoking in the car, the odor of the cigarettes...slowly kind of formed an addiction," he said. He supports keeping his smoke away from non-tobacco users, and says the bans in the bill are a good idea.

The bill has already passed the House, and is being considered by the Senate Health and Welfare committee this week.

For a list of the places where smoking would be banned, you can read the full text of the bill here.

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