Lincoln bars got a major victory in the fight to ban smoking indoors.
The City Council was scheduled to take a final vote on the proposal. However, Councilman Jonathan Cook was absent from Monday’s meeting due to the flu.
The council instead added an amendment that will exempt any bar that makes 60% or less of their profit from food.
Councilwoman Patte Newman says she proposed the amendment because of a petition supporting the exemption signed by thousands of residents.
“I believe the community has spoken that the exemption from bars is something that the community wants to see,” said Newman.
Bar owners applauded the amendment.
“We were really worried with other cities and communities around the country and what (a ban) has done with the bars and sports bar industry in those communities. I think this (amendment) puts to bed those fears that they have,” said Brian Kitten co-owner of Brewsky’s Bar & Spirits.
Tobacco Free Lincoln pushed the original ban and is frustrated with the amendment.
“This amendment defies the intent of the legislation to protect workers and patrons. And it defies the will of the people,” said Cindy Wostrel.
Next week is the last meeting of the year for the council. Chairman Camp says there is sure to be more amendments at that meeting.