Up in Smoke

Having a drink - but not a smoke - with the number one enemy of Proposition 200

Egan: Well, this is really where the whole thing fell apart. We had a tough time securing our own voters because, historically, the people we cater to don't vote.

Pela: You mean people who hang out in bars don't vote.

Egan: Let's just say that we got 2,300 votes, and we needed 5,000 votes to beat it. But we couldn't even get that.

Roger Egan is pissed off.
Kevin Scanlon
Roger Egan is pissed off.

Pela: I had a hard time following the ambiguous language of the ordinance — it left the question of outdoor smoking areas completely in doubt.

Egan: That was deliberate. It seems to be saying that a bar can't have a smoking patio that surrounds the entrance or exit, and that no patio smoke can interfere with the activities of the public or your employees. It's deliberately vague, and we're hoping that the city attorney will interpret it as liberally as possible. Right now, it pits bar owners against one another, because some bars have patios, and others don't.

Pela: That guy at the next table just lit up a cigarette. After this new ordinance goes into effect, what happens to him?

Egan: Poor guy. The new law says he'll be greeted here with signs telling him he can't smoke. He won't find an ashtray on his table. If he tries to smoke, we'll have to actually go over and tell the poor slob to put it out. If he doesn't, he'll be fined. He'll have to be escorted to the door. Get the smoking Gestapo out here! Lock the son of a bitch up! Put him in handcuffs and beat him up! Jail for life!

Pela: What about rumored links between your group and the tobacco industry?

Egan: It's bull. We ran a professional campaign; we filed everything with the city. We kept to the high ground while our opponents competed by misleading the public with fear and half-truths.

Pela: I'm guessing you didn't get a lot of support from local government.

Egan: We had one Tempe councilman, Dennis J. Cahill, who was promoting Prop 200 to further his political career, since he's never had a real job in his life. He's lived off the political dole his entire adult life, to the detriment of the community. Other officials did nothing, because they felt it was a no-win situation for them, so they stuck their heads in the sand and refused to take a stand about it.

Pela: What happens now?

Egan: I'll never support another politician or community leader in Tempe again after this. We've been here 14 years, and I'm moving to Peoria and opening a bar there. I've had it with Tempe.

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