Supporters of a statewide smoking ban are putting the finishing touches on a ballot initiative that would outlaw smoking inside all public buildings — including bars and restaurants.
Andy Gordon, an attorney working for the anti-smoking group, said he expects to file the proposed ballot language with the Secretary of State’s Office by the end of August.
The group could then start gathering 187,000 signatures necessary to place the initiative on the November 2006 general election ballot.
If passed, the number of places where smokers could light up would be limited to outdoor areas and private residences, Gordon said. Punishment likely would include a warning for first-time offenders and a fine for repeat violators.
Although an official antismoking campaign has not started, it hasn’t stopped members of the American heart, lung and cancer associations from seeking endorsements.
Several East Valley bars told the Tribune they were contacted by the anti-smoking group and agreed to lend their support.
A 2003 statewide poll showed, by a wide margin, that Arizonans do not want smoking anywhere that children may be. Support dropped off sharply when people were asked about barring smoking in restaurants and all businesses open to the public.
If successful, a smoking ban could be seen as a gain for Tempe bar and restaurant owners.
Since a city ban took effect in 2003, many Tempe bars have closed their doors or have complained about a sharp decline in business. A statewide ban, they say, would even the playing field.