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City considering poll on smoking ban

Anti-smoking group may pay for poll, or help arrange for it

Powell residents may be surveyed to determine their thoughts on a proposed smoking ban.

City Administrator Zane Logan said Friday the city is considering using data gathered by a polling agency to learn what people want the city to do. However, the poll may be paid for, or at least provided by, Prevention Management of Park County (PMPC), which supports a ban on smoking on public places in the city.

Logan said despite that, city leaders have been assured the poll will be “accurate and fair and scientific.”

After a proposed smoking ban was discussed at the July 15 council meeting, the council decided to issue a letter to business owners asking for their thoughts on a ban. But that plan was rejected later, and a poll was considered.

“After that meeting, we talked, the mayor and I and our attorney, Sandee (Kitchen) ... that it might be the perception was, maybe it seemed liked the city was pushing an agenda one way or another,” Logan said.

Prevention team leader Sharon Altermatt said in an email to the Powell Tribune that she asked the city to reject the letter plan and try a poll instead.

“They’ve switched from doing that to having a poll done. It was my idea,” Altermatt wrote. “Business owners aren’t their only constituents. I’m trying to find someone who can do a valid and scientific sampling.”

However, over the weekend, she backed away from that a bit.

“I told you the poll was my idea. I had thought of it mainly because you need to do a sampling of the community, not just business owners,” she wrote in an email to the Tribune. “But when we met (the mayor, Zane and I) they had thought the same thing. I’m interested in getting a scientific valid sampling of Powell. Whoever does it will be totally independent of our organization. ... I think the majority of people are (for) this and it’s worth it to me to pay for it.”

She noted that the Tribune has done two polls on proposed smoking bans. One showed support for it, while a second posted online in July showed a narrow win for those opposed to a smoking ban.

Logan said Mayor Don Hillman wants to ensure any poll that is conducted is done in a fair and accurate manner. Hillman doesn’t want too many questions on it, either, he said.

“The mayor wants to make it fairly straightforward,” Logan said. “Two or three questions.”

The council may review the questions before the poll is conducted, he said. Kitchen has been charged with ensuring the poll’s reliability, Logan said, and he is waiting to hear from her about it. One reason to involve Prevention Management is that it will pay for the poll, or find a university or some other agency to conduct it.

“We want to try to do it accurately and without a lot of cost to the city,” Logan said. “That way, the mayor and the council know the public’s sentiment. As we know, there’s two sides of this issue.”

Altermatt said the debate over a smoking ban has turned personal.

“Somehow I need to prepare people for how ugly (don’t know how else to say it) this battle always gets,” she wrote in an email. “Having been through it several times, I know what to expect. What usually happens is the average person tends to just avoid the whole issue. The ones that understand it for the health issue it is and would like to see their community healthier aren’t willing to subject themselves to all the vitriol.

“The ones that oppose it view their battle as a holy crusade against what they perceive as a violation of rights, and they seem to believe that their cause justifies any amount of vitriol,” Altermatt wrote. “Add to that the phenomena of the mob mentality and things can get a little interesting.”

She said she has been attacked on Facebook, and some were “very abusive,” so she ended her membership in a page called Powell Forum.

“I can take it, and I expect it,” Altermatt said. “I would just like to warn the community and help prepare people for it. I’m open to any ideas.”

The Powell City Council will discuss the issue again Monday. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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10 comments

  • posted by Bob J

    August 30, 2013 5:47 am

    Let me guess. 72% 0f 600 people say smoking should be banned. These "results" have been published hundreds of times throughout the nation

  • posted by Ann Marie

    August 08, 2013 10:50 am

    How can anyone go by polls these days and how do they decide how much smoking is being done when you have the legal tobacco and the contraband tobacco and how exactly does anyone know exactly how much money is being lost to the black market and if they do, how do they know and judge the amounts of millions maybe billions of dollars legally and illegally gained and lost?? I can see the legal amount being transparent, but the black market, how do they know how much is there and if they do know, how do they know?? Do they actually know the rates of smoking considering the legal and black markets or is it a guess? Give it up and admit defeat just like the prohibitionist had too and alcohol today and gambling today are worst, way worst than smoking ever was or will be.

  • posted by Margaret Asker

    August 07, 2013 5:18 am

    SG...B)no I prefer to entertain in a smoking allowed venue
    .....B) I believe businesses should chose and I will frequent those that dont condemn my smoking

  • posted by Iro

    August 03, 2013 1:40 pm

    ''“The mayor wants to make it fairly straightforward,” Logan said. “Two or three questions.”

    The following are quite ''straightforward'' questions, but what a difference they can make in the results of the poll. Of course it all depends on who pays the pollsters and in this case it is the smoking ban proponents so we can only guess what type of ''straightforward'' questions they will be asked:

    Will it be this straightforward question?

    The SG found that there is no safe level of second hand smoke. Do you prefer entertaining in a smoke-free venue?
    a) Yes
    b) No
    c) No opinion

    Or this one?

    Business owners should be entitled to choose what legal activity they can allow in their privately owned premises.

    a) Government should force them to make their venues smoke-free
    b) Government should leave it up to business owners to make their own decisions
    c) No opinion

  • posted by clipstein

    August 03, 2013 7:38 am

    the whole issue should be smoke and that means joints as well..... which one does more harm???? what do the joints do for kids when that smoke surrounds them? and salty agree they take the money and also buy joints.....or stealing the money......you know if you are not carefull one of these days the government will send you a box of food for the month. of course everyone then will look alike, be alike and can only do what the government wants you to.

  • posted by An American Citizen

    August 02, 2013 3:45 pm

    I agree shannon, I wouldn't have been involved if Mrs Altermatt didn't call people a lower social class(literally lesser people than herself) and her rights superceded those of smokers. This debate was made personal by Sharon and sadly, with that comes alot of negative attitude to match her own which she obviously did not take well. She said she was attacked... well only after attacking others and denigrading them as low life leeches to society. As far as im concerned, lying about well known facts then manipulating the truth to benefit yourself is quite an insult to onesself imho

  • posted by jonik

    August 02, 2013 2:17 pm

    Polls like this are shams because the results are foregone conclusions. In this case, yes, the polls are little more than a hand-count of smokers and non-smokers, but it's more than that.

    The public has been grossly misinformed by the media, and by cigarette makers themselves, about just what a typical cigarette actually is. We are told (and many believe) it is just tobacco, but that is so far from the truth that to call it "tobacco" under oath would be criminal perjury.
    A typical cigarette is an industrial concoction made up of perhaps some tobacco leaf, mostly tobacco waste, residues of any of about 450 tobacco pesticides, any of about 1400 (!) untested non-tobacco additives, burn accelerants, dioxin-creating chlorine pesticides and chlorine-bleached paper, loads of kid-attracting sweets, flavors, aromas, etc., adhesives, ammonia, preservatives, humectants, radiation from certain phosphate fertilizers, and even fake tobacco made in US Patented ways from all sorts of industrial waste cellulose.
    Some brands may legally, without informative labeling, contain no tobacco at all, just the "tobacco substitute material", flavored and colored like tobacco, with a measured dose of nicotine. Can't get dreaded tobacco smoke from that.

    For the sake of science, medicine, and law, this stuff cannot be called "tobacco", nor the smoke "tobacco smoke", nor the resultant effects "tobacco-related disease".

    We need to take a poll that asks "Do you approve of secretly poisoning and experimenting on consumers with some of the most toxic and carcinogenic industrial substances on earth?"

    Or "Do you approve of cigarette makers keeping ingredients secret and defrauding smokers by leading them to believe the products are tobacco?"

    Or "Do you approve of economically-corrupted lawmakers protecting cigarette makers and ingredient suppliers from liabilities, PR damage, and criminal charges by the 'anti-smoking' tactic of blaming the victims?"

  • posted by Shannon Siebert

    August 02, 2013 9:05 am

    It is sad to me that this debate cannot just be about the topic at hand, but rather it gets personal and issues personal attacks upon people. No one deserves to be bullied for their beliefs no matter what they may be. As adults we set the precedence for our younger generation. Perhaps we can all be adults about this and debate the issue at hand without bullying and personal attacks.

  • posted by Audrey Silk

    August 02, 2013 1:13 am

    Wow, if that's not the pot calling the kettle black. The "holy crusade" is that of the anti-smokers who go at these bans like saviors. And "mob mentality"?? Again, it's what smokers and those who prefer civil liberties over diktats suffer at the hands of the anti-smokers. When 70% of the population doesn't smoke what do you think this poll will conclude? These anti-smoker polls never really take the pulse of what the public feels about a ban, they only reflect the smoking prevalence rate! Google "smoking ban" and "poll" (or even cigarette taxes and poll) and you'll find the same percentages on all of them. It's quite disheartening for the other side when they keep hearing the boast -- and the media printing it without question -- "Look! The majority wants it," when it's nothing but a count of non-smokers versus smokers (and those who stand for the principle of private choice and property rights -- which explains the sneaky resistance to polling the owners instead).

  • posted by Salty Dawg

    August 01, 2013 11:28 am

    Anyone who can afford tobacco anymore can go outdoors and smoke...the rest of us are sick of the stinking things.This goes for the chump change at the stores using SNAP and WIC cards also.These ding dongs buy tobacco with the change from food purchases...we all have seen it.

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