City of Lincoln
City Council Office
Council Members Comments
I have always supported protecting all Lincoln workers from secondhand smoke. My votes have never wavered and my opinion privately and publicly has remained the same. As a Democrat I strongly believe that it is my duty to protect workers' wages, benefits and work environment.
Most workplaces are already smoke free. In Nebraska the glaring exceptions are restaurants and bars. Unfortunately as a group, hospitality workers receive low wages and rarely receive benefits. These workers are the ones most likely to be exposed to a deadly carcinogen in the workplace - secondhand smoke.
The Smoke Free Air act was a difficult issue for every city council member. We are all concerned for the welfare of workers, the public, and the economic vitality of Lincoln businesses. It is important for me to know that over 100 other cities and some states have laws requiring smoke free restaurants and bars. Those cities and states have not seen a reduction in business. New York City has seen an increase in their restaurant and bar employment and revenue since going 100% smoke free.
This has been a very controversial issue. There are folks with varying opinions in all political parties. The City Council has held open debate on the issue. Amendment after amendment was introduced and some passed and some failed. In the end a motion to amend the ordinance made all public workplaces in Lincoln smoke free.
It is my hope that as this ordinance becomes law on July 13th and as the Health Department begins enforcing it on November 1st, more workers and more residents and visitors will enjoy cleaner, healthier air in our City. It is also my hope that our community and our party will move forward to other issues that we need to address with a cooperative spirit.