by Brady Moore
The City of Eagle was well on it's way to becoming the first smoke-free city in Idaho, until last week, at least. Councilman Michael Huffaker put a stop to the city's Clean Indoor Air Ordinance when he changed his vote on June 23.
The ordinance would have prohibited smoking at all businesses with more than five employees, including standalone bars, and would limit where smokers could light up outside, within city limits.
At the June 9 City Council meeting the ordinance was read for the first time and passed with a vote of 3 to 2. It seemed as if residents could soon breathe fresh air in Eagle. There were few objections to the ordinance except for a sprinkling of residents who were concerned about over-regulation.
Huffaker joined the skeptics last week when he changed his vote in opposition to the ordinance saying that possible detriments to the City of Eagle outweighed the benefits to the city. Huffaker cited a study that claims that if bar rats can't smoke in their favorite bar in Eagle they will drive to neighboring cities to get their fix and then drive home drunk.
In a statement to the citizens of Eagle, Huffaker says, "I came to the Council meeting on June 23rd fully prepared to vote the same as I did on June 9th, but after listening to all the arguments again both for and against the ordinance, I felt myself being persuaded that although the intent and purpose of Ordinance 622 was good, that passing this particular ordinance was not the best way to accomplish that purpose ... It was a very difficult decision to make but I felt I had to vote my conscience and for what I thought would be in the best interest of the city as a whole."
Eagle City Council hasn't quite stopped fighting for clean air just yet, though the ordinance has been tabled. They plan to send a resolution letter to the Idaho Legislature to encourage a statewide ban.