Casper smoking ban referendum will not be on November ballot

Effort fails to collect enough valid signatures; ordinance takes effect Sept. 1
2012-07-26T21:00:00Z 2013-08-29T22:24:59Z Casper smoking ban referendum will not be on November ballotBy KELLY BYER Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

After failing to collect nearly 2,000 valid signatures needed for a public vote, opponents of Casper’s smoking ban say they will set their sights on elections as proponents hope to continue education efforts.

“We didn’t hit the threshold, so we have to accept that and closely watch and support the city council candidates,” said Pat Sweeney, local businessman and referendum organizer. “That’s where the next test can be made.”

The city announced Thursday that 1,587 out of 3,636 signatures were confirmed as belonging to voters registered in the city of Casper. Opponents of the ban were short by 412 signatures, which represented a confirmation rate of 43.6 percent.

Administrative Services Director V.H. McDonald said an updated list of voters set the required signatures at 1,999, or 10 percent of registered voters in the city of Casper. Petition signatures were checked against a list obtained from the Natrona County Clerk’s Office on July 18.

“We wanted to get the most up to date registration list there was,” he said.

The majority of signatures were invalid because names or addresses did not match those that people used to register. McDonald said some addresses were not located in the city.

The Casper City Council in June approved an ordinance banning indoor smoking for bars, restaurants and other places open to the public and scheduled the law to take effect Sept. 1.

Councilmen Paul Bertoglio and Bill Brauer cast the only votes against the ban, although they joined the rest of the council in voting for a delayed start date to accommodate the referendum effort. Councilman Keith Goodenough abstained from voting because of a conflict of interest. All members had said they supported a public vote.

“Our small group tried as good as they could to produce the signatures necessary, and we were unsuccessful,” Sweeney said.

Expecting about half the signatures to be invalid based on a similar referendum in Laramie, Sweeney said his goal was to collect 5,000 signatures. About 15 people were involved in the effort to collect petitions and did so from about the time the ordinance passed until a July 17 deadline. The Wonder Bar owner said he knew of individuals, though, who resided outside Casper but still wanted to show their support by signing a petition.

“I didn’t tell them to stop because they’re passionate,” Sweeney said. “That’s why we were passionate on trying to get it on the ballot.”

Don Miner, owner of Industrial Screen and Maintenance Inc. and chairman of the opposition’s political action committee, said he still expects the ban to decrease productivity at his manufacturing shop.

“It’s going to impact our business greatly,” he said.

Miner said about 75 percent of his employees smoke, and breaks to go outside would cause an hour of production loss, which equates to $2,800 a day. He said there’s nothing he can do to prepare for the ban because no location exists for an outdoor patio or shelter.

“Secondhand smoke is not really an issue for us here, simply because of the fact that we do have hundreds and thousands of dollars’ worth of ventilation equipment put in,” he added.

Miner said he was disappointed the referendum failed and expects the group to focus on electing council members with a stated interest in protecting individuals’ and business’ interests.

Councilmen Charlie Powell, who voted in favor of the ban, and Bill Brauer, who voted against the ban, are the only members running for re-election this fall. At least three seats will be vacated by current members who have chosen not to run again.

Mandi Wymore, campaign organizer for SmokeFree Natrona County, said the group hopes to continue working with the city and currently has no plans to expand the campaign beyond Casper. The local organization, supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, intends to assist compliance by providing signs and educating businesses about the ban.

“They had a great effort trying to get that out there and get on the ballot, but I think that this shows that this is what Casper citizens wanted,” Wymore said. “They didn’t sign the petition because they want to see the healthier community.”

Reach city reporter Kelly Byer at 307-266-0639 or

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. SavEcig
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    SavEcig - January 08, 2013 12:11 pm

    The CDC predicts there will be smoking bans nationwide by 2020. Like it or not - it is going to happen. When I was a smoker, I was against smoking bans. But since I switched to electronic cigarettes two years ago I don't have to worry about smoking bans, second-hand smoke, tar, smelly clothes, or ever-increasing cigarette taxes...and e-cigs are cheaper.
  2. generalsn
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    generalsn - August 08, 2012 5:32 am
    If you google "Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, smokeless states program" you will see that the ACS, and others, recieved millions from Johnson and Johnson to become a tax exempt political action committee hiring "advocates" (lobbyists) for smoking bans. It's nothing but clever marketing strategy for their smoking cessation products. Chantix and Nicoderm sales skyrockted after they started the ban frenzy.
  3. idkwhy
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    idkwhy - July 29, 2012 2:33 pm
    what next my house, my car, my yard
  4. nick82301
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    nick82301 - July 28, 2012 11:44 am
    I'm not for or against the smoking ban since I have quit smoking! I do believe that it should be the choice of the person that owns the establishment to allow their patrons to smoke. I'll be damned if I allow someone to tell me what I can and cannot do with a place I am/have been working my butt off to pay for! How is it right for 10 (correct number is unknown to be for how many on city council) to decide the rights of thousands? Put this on the November ballet and let everyone decide their faith just like we all decide the fate of the members!
  5. carlover
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    carlover - July 28, 2012 6:37 am
    hey i had nothing to do with the pitition, i really didnt care all that much. i was simply standing up for PROPERTY rights of 8 places who should not be punished because a hand full of non smokers were so jealious they turned green that these private clubs were making money. when their little bestros and non smoking joints could not even hold employees, yes i believe this was a whinner business owner who went non smoking and failing and thinks now that its all non smoking she or he can stay a float. but since we dont know which whinner it was, im boycotting them all. and thats really what happend the city council picked business to prosper and ones to fail. good job. kill downtown i say. let it dry up and rot. see how your convention center does after all the small businesses like the v leave city limits. old folks and vets are pretty good spenders.and they remember what they went over seas to fight for, even though you have forgotten. can we say rights boys and girls. everyones rights, in cluding the right to prosper in your business.
  6. Winston
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    Winston - July 27, 2012 10:04 pm
    What I'm trying to say, Carlover, is that in your mission to punish Casper, you are punishing those business owners who fought the smoking ordinance along with you. Do what you want with your money, but I see your actions punishing your beloved watering holes much more than I see them punishing our City.

    Also, it stands to reason that if 1,900 active and registered Casper voters wouldn't sign your petition, then the voters want clean air. I vote in every election because I care in every election.....not because one issue every 10 years sparks my interest.
  7. carlover
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    carlover - July 27, 2012 6:20 pm
    it stands to reason they had 3600 well that tells me that its not wanted. how petty to kick them out for stupid crap like change in address, not eveone who votes owns their home. and i would take to a judge. and winston. i spend about 4.000 a month in casper limits for food, movies, going out, gambling,, and you can bet i wont be doing that now. if the citizens could not find the time to sign this peitition and make a loud outcry, then screw em. they can do with out my money, and they can do without sis's tax money for plates and such to the tune of 25k a year, and they can do without my plate moneys, ill go to riverton to plate my bike and car and trucxk and smomobiles and boats. screw em. starve them out i say.
  8. red1100cc
    Report Abuse
    red1100cc - July 27, 2012 3:56 pm
    with the fake petitions, stolen petitions, vandalism, and the city messing up the count, i believe there is good reason to take it to a city judge and get a ruling.
  9. Winston
    Report Abuse
    Winston - July 27, 2012 1:19 pm
    Here's an idea. How about, instead of penalizing these bar owners you've been working with and have such great relationships with, you stand by their side and continue to partonize them? Was the ONLY reason you went to these places to smoke? I bet not. You can smoke in your home, your car, and outside. You go to these place because you like the folks working there, the patrons, the food, the atmosphere, etc... Don't punish them by saying, "Well, we fought a good fight and lost. I don't support you anymore for something that isn't your fault". I mean, Wow, Carlover, grow up.
  10. Robotoad
    Report Abuse
    Robotoad - July 27, 2012 10:09 am
    It's a bright new future,the people can now breathe, free from the smoke filled rooms, ashes in my food and drink and free of stinky clothes and burning eyes. You smell that??? Nope, me neither.
  11. carlover
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    carlover - July 27, 2012 3:40 am
    truely a sad day, for us free people. but i guess the county smoking establishments could use our business more then downtown, so long casper. your now a prision city. the only thing missing is the (BARS). litterly.
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