By a vote of 12 to 1, the D.C. Council yesterday gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would ban smoking in all bars and restaurants. Under the current version, bar owners and restaurateurs have until January 2007 to adjust, and there are exemptions for outdoor seating, tobacconists, and cigar lounges. Moreover, businesses that suffer a "significant, negative impact" from the ban can seek "economic-hardship waivers." This is what passes for a moderate approach these days.
The single no vote was cast by Council Member Carol Schwartz, an at-large Republican who has long resisted the smoking ban as an infringement on business owners' prerogatives and the principle of free choice. "I don't like [tobacco smoke] either," she said. "But there are 200 [nonsmoking] venues in the city I can choose so that I don't have to be around it."