The notion of a smoking ban in Philadelphia bars continues to be controversial, despite the record of success of similar bans in cities such as San Francisco and New York. (If brown-fingered locals in New York continued to go to bars after the ban, why wouldn't the same thing happen here? Surely a ton of smoke-intolerant middle agers would come out of the woodwork to rediscover their onetime haunts! End editorial.) The latest battles are within City Council
, where Rick Mariano thinks the issue should be left to voters in a referendum (perhaps so nobody could point the finger at him), while sponsor Michael Nutter thinks this is exactly the sort of decision that City Council exists for.
"Councilman Nutter is concerned about health issues, which we should be thinking about, but I just think this is a place where City Council shouldn't be sticking their neck in. So let the voters decide," Mariano said. "If the people want a ban, then we'll talk about it."
Nutter responded that Council members are paid "a very decent salary" to make laws. "This issue is clearly within our authority, and we don't need any additional authorization for it," he said.
Most of the other arguments made here are somewhat ridiculous, so I suspect that the main issue is whether each Council member thinks his or her consituents will be pleased or peeved with a vote in support of this measure...