Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Senate hands setback to bill to ban airport smoking: Salt Lake City International Airport (KSLC), Utah

It can be hard to stop smoking, as Sen. Evan Vickers learned Tuesday, after senators defeated his proposal to get rid of the smoking rooms at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

Salt Lake is one of the few remaining airports where passengers can smoke in a designated room instead of having to leave the airport and go back through security. Vickers bill, SB61, would have done away with that smoking area.

"If you think this is a perception issue, go travel to California, go travel to Minnesota, go travel to New York where it has already taken place," Vickers said. "This is not a new, revolutionary idea."

But Vickers' bill didn't sit well with some small-government Republicans.

Citing Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' axiom that "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins," Sen. Howard Stephenson said that the right to smoke ends when it enters someone else's lungs. But as long as they are in the smoking room, he said, people are only hurting themselves.

"I can't understand why we would want to say, 'Well, we know your smoking isn't affecting us, it's not entering our lungs, but still we don't think you should be able to do it,'" he said. "I think of all states, we should be welcoming smokers here."

And Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, asked "What is the proper role of government? Is government supposed to protect our rights and freedoms or ... run our lives because it knows better?"

Vickers' bill failed by a vote of 14-15, but could be revived if he can get an opposing senator to change his or her mind.


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