City Council nails down new smoking ordinance for all indoor public places

After weeks of debate and additional work with the American Cancer Society, members of the Missoula City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a modernized smoking ordinance – one that could also see the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program update its own model codes.

As adopted, the new Missoula ordinance bans the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public places and gives business owners the ability to restrict smoking within 25 feet of their doorways.

While the council was expected to adopt the measure earlier this month, it gave the City-County Health Department more time to review comments from the American Cancer Society and amend the ordinance as necessary.

“In general, the cancer society’s comments were based on their expertise and experience with local and state smoking ordinance laws and rules across the U.S.,” said Shannon Therriault, the city’s environmental health director. “We were able to talk with them about why we were doing what we’re doing, and why we wanted it to be consistent with the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act. In the end, there wasn’t a lot to change.”

Therriault said the ACA did recommend that the city delete several exemptions included in an earlier version of the ordinance, including schools to allow demonstration projects and hotels.

Under the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act, hotels are permitted to designate 35 percent of their rooms for smoking, though the recommendations offered by the ACA and adopted by the city allows no smoking of any kind in any room accessible to the public.

“We didn’t want to do that (exemption) with this update,” Therriault said. “They (ACA) were talking about it from a more conceptual point of not allowing smoking in any indoor space at all.”

The ordinance defines an indoor public place as any building to which the public has or is permitted access. Smoking now covers alternative smoking devices that create aerosol or vapor, along with traditional cigarettes, cigars and marijuana.

The new ordinance also updates the definition of smoking and alternative smoking device.

“We had based our (earlier) rules on the model code that was provided by the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program,” Therriault said. “After our conversation with the American Cancer Society, which MTUPP was a part of, they’re going to change their model rules. They’re better stated and more holistic.”

The City Council is expected to adopt the ordinance on Monday night.