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Conn, Legislature Passes Smoking Ban

May 8, 2003

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The state House voted Wednesday to ban smoking in Connecticut bars and restaurants and sent the measure to Gov. John G. Rowland for his signature.

Rowland said he is not happy with the legislation, but was still ``inclined″ to sign the bill, which the Senate passed last week.

The ban on smoking in restaurants would begin Oct. 1, and the bar ban would kick in April 1, 2004.

There are exemptions for private clubs, ``tobacco bars,″ establishments that serve alcohol outdoors and the state’s two casinos. The bill also tightens smoking restrictions in other workplaces.

``This bill sets a standard of continuity, of balance, of fairness across the state,″ House Speaker Moira Lyons, D-Stamford, said after the vote. Lyons said a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants and bars is more fair than another proposal that would have allowed cities and towns to set up their own bans.

Some opponents of the ban said it would hurt small businesses, and others said the state government was intruding on people’s lives.

Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford, called the vote an example of ``tyranny by the majority,″ considering less than 20 percent of Connecticut’s citizens smoke cigarettes.

But Rep. Robert Farr, R-West Hartford, said that as a nonsmoker, he should be able to choose whether he wants to inhale smoke.

California and Delaware currently have statewide bans on smoking in restaurants and bars, and a statewide ban in New York will start in July. Many cities and towns in other states have enacted their own bans.

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