Towns Could Opt Out of Smoking Ban in New Bill

Nebraska Lawmakers are looking at putting a loophole in the statewide smoking ban.  The statewide smoking ban starts June first this year, making all public places and workplaces smoke free.  Today a legislative committee heard a bill that would change the ban, by adding the option for local communities to opt-out of it.

Twenty-three states say you better put out that cigarette in public places, and Nebraska is jumping on that bandwagon in June.  Unless the legislature passes a bill Senator Karpisek is introducing. Local communities could opt-out of the ban or chose to make the ban more strict.

Those in favor of the opt-out amendment say towns should decide on a ban themselves.

“There are a lot of towns in nebraska, almost 500, different little worlds, facing different challenges,” said Paul Schumacher. 

But opponents say it's a loophole that will weaken the ban and cause health problems.

“Every employee deserves to breathe clean air,” said Kathy Burson.

And nebraska is behind when it comes to clean air.

“I get calls and e-mails all the time, people say, what's going on in nebraska? Why do you let people smoke there?” said Mark Welsch.

For senator karpisek, it's about personal liberties, and the right for people to choose where to light up.

Lincoln and Omaha already voted to go smoke free, so nothing will change here when the ban goes into effect in June.

The committee didn't vote today, but if the comittee approves the bill, it'll go to the floor next for debate.