All Chandler restaurants will be smoke-free by October, but bars will be allowed to keep their ashtrays, the Chandler City Council decided late Thursday.
The 6-1 vote adds Chandler to a list of other East Valley communities — Mesa, Gilbert and Tempe — that have instituted stiffer smoking laws.
The new ordinance will go into effect Oct. 1. Penalties would be enforced Jan. 1, 2004.
Councilman Phill Westbrooks was the dissenting vote.
"The Chandler City Council is a governing body that really takes a lead on issues," he said. "Tonight, I think we’re following. This ordinance is basically a Band-Aid for trying to treat cancer. I’m disappointed it’s not stronger."
In the crowd of about 150 people, about half of the audience wore bright yellow "Smoke-Free in ’03" shirts. More than 60 people from Chandler and other East Valley communities signed up to speak their minds about the topic. Applause broke out in smatterings as different viewpoints aired.
During the long debate, Councilwoman Patti Bruno motioned to ban smoking in all restaurants, but allow it in bars and in bars attached to, but physically separated from, bowling alleys or restaurants.
"We’re going to have all smoke-free restaurants in Chandler," Mayor Boyd Dunn said. But some audience members were not happy with just restaurants.
"This motion that was made really trades off human life for presumed money," said Dr. Clifford Harris of Mesa. "There will be people in Chandler that will die because bars have smoking."
Marguerite Munkachy of Chandler said allowing exemptions is reprehensible.
"When you begin to riddle the field with potholes called exemptions, you do not have a fair and equitable policy for health" she said.
"I hear a lot about freedom of choice," she added. "They are still free to fill themselves with smoke, but do it outside."
Another speaker, Sherrif Hatcher, said an allinclusive smoking ban in Tempe and a stringent smoking regulation in Mesa made her close two bars in those cities, she said.
Now, she said, all she has left is her two Chandler sports bars. If Chandler adopts a ban as well it would "force my customers to drive to a neighboring city," she said.
"The economy is fragile right now. I cannot afford to take even a 5 percent loss," she said. "I’m not here to hurt anybody, I’m only here to make an honest living."
Many of those who did not want a ban said businesses should have a right to decide whether to allow smoking.
"I don’t believe this is just a health issue. Our mission should be to educate, not legislate," said Vern Wilson of Chandler.
About 10 months ago, a citizens group began discussing new smoking regulations for Chandler. In September, a committee of business owners, residents and health care workers began to meet to draft an ordinance. They came up with three different possibilities for the council to consider.
The City Council also voted to have the city staff make a report next April about how the ordinance is going, especially on the separation of bars issue.