Grant County residents will continue to be able to smoke inside bars and taverns for the time being.

A controversial smoking ordinance died Monday afternoon during the Grant County Commissioners meeting after it failed to go to a vote.

Mike Burton, president of the commissioners, made a motion to approve the ordinance but did not receive a second from either Commissioner Mark Bardsley or Ron Mowery.

Burton voiced his support for the ordinance, saying when he considers the effects of secondhand smoke he agrees with the ban.

Bardsley, however, said he had “no desire” to pass the ordinance.

Mowery was contacted about his stance on the ordinance after the meeting but did not reply by Monday evening.

The ordinance was originally introduced in August 2018. It had been tabled multiple times to allow for more research before commissioners were willing to take action.

Kelley Hochstetler, chair of the TORCH tobacco coalition and community outreach coordinator at Marion General Hospital, said she was disappointed by the ordinance failing.

“Nationally, we have seen the best and most strongest way to reduce smoking in the county is by public policy,” Hochstetler said.

She said she understands people are concerned about their rights, but laws like wearing a seatbelt are made to protect the public, she said. Hochstetler said California has been smoke-free for years and people still patronize bars, responding to fears that the ban would have driven down business.

Mark Wolfgand, owner of Wolfie’s Timeout Tavern in Van Buren, said he was glad the ordinance died. Wolfgand said the public knows his bar is a smoking establishment and nobody is forced to go.

Bardsley plans to introduce a substitute ordinance during the Aug. 5 commissioners’ meeting, although he did not describe the specifics of his proposed ordinance.

“I will be proposing those things that will enhance the community and not infringe upon private citizens and private businesses,” Bardsley said.
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