The Senate Majority Leader believes a statewide smoking ban could still happen this year.
State Senator Russ Decker (D-Weston) says both sides of the issue should be able to reach common ground, in order to advance the bill to a vote on the floor. Decker thinks there's still time for a compromise that would ban smoking in restaurants as soon as possible, and phase-in taverns by April of 2011.
A Senate Committee approved the bill earlier this week with a 2010 effective date for taverns instead. Decker says those pushing for the ban need to be more flexible. The Weston Democrat says supporters of the ban have been working on it for years with few results and need to realize that compromise is the only way to get something done.
Decker also wants the ban to allow taverns to install smoking parlors that vent outside, but would not be serviced by the bartender. Existing smoking bans would be exempt from that provision. The Majority Leader says that would keep smoking out of the main part of taverns, but still allow owners to protect their investment.