The Washington Post reports that DC city councilman Jack Evans has succeeded in obtaining a waiver from the District’s smoking ban for two groups he personally favors:
Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) has asked his council colleagues to keep tradition alive for the all-male Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and another organization, Fight for Children, which hosts an annual smoke-filled professional boxing fundraiser.
Evans, who is a member of the Irish organization, said the measure was narrowly crafted, making an exception for only two nights a year and protecting workers by allowing venue employees to opt out of working the events.
But the bill has proponents of the District’s 2006 workplace smoking ban in a huff.
Angela Bradbery, co-founder of Smokefree DC, urged Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) in a letter Monday to veto the legislation that she said would force workers to choose between their health and a paycheck; open the door for other organizations to request exemptions; and send a message that “it’s okay to break the law if you’re on the council or a buddy of a council member.” [...]
Despite opposition from the smoke-free camp, he succeeded last week in passing a one-year waiver on a 10 to 3 vote. The bill initially failed to get the necessary nine votes, but Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8 ) switched positions on a second try.
It’s a rare day that I agree with groups like Smokefree DC, but they’re right to oppose the exemptions. Jack Evans attempted to pass one for the Sons of St. Patrick last year as well, at which time I wrote:
Evans has discovered the pain of having one’s treasured tradition banned by a bunch of meddling bureaucrats. I’d be sympathetic if not for the fact that Evans is one of those meddling bureaucrats. If he doesn’t like the law, he should introduce changes that open up smoking venues to everyone, not just to clubs that happen to have a city councilman in their membership.
In 2005, Evans voted for the DC smoking ban that took away the rights of business owners, employees, and patrons to determine tobacco policies by voluntary exchange.