By Cierra Putman
ALPINE - Smoking bans are usually hot button issues pitting non-smokers against bar owners, but in Alpine bar owners are spearheading an effort to get the city council to help clear the air.
After 15 years owning the Railroad Blues Bar, R.C. Toler and his business partner Richard Fallon say it's time for a change.
"We're all for the non smoking ban," Toler said. "I don't smoke, my partner doesn't smoke and we have a lot of customers who don't smoke. We'd have a lot more who'd come in we didn't allow smoking."
It turns out other bar owners in town felt the same way and went to city councilman James "Fitz" Fitzgerald for help.
"I was sitting at Harry Tinaja's down the street and Harry was sitting next to me and he said I wish (the city council) would pass a non-smoking ordinance," Councilman Fitz said. "So, I said I'll poll the other bar owners and if they're interested I'd be more than happy to represent your position."
Four out of the five bar owners Councilman Fitz polled were for a ban and the other owner said he wouldn't fight it.
On Tuesday night at the city council meeting, Fitz showed the letters of support the business owners gave him to the city council.
"If we just did it by ourselves, we'd be boycotted. I think because the smokers ban together pretty tight," Toller said. "We need everybody to join together on this."
Unlike stricter laws elsewhere, the Alpine ordinance would only ban smoking at bars, and bar owners are even keeping smokers in mind.
While they don't want people smoking inside, they're quite alright with people going outside and smoking on their decks and patios.
In the end, Fitz said it's up to the people of Alpine if the ban becomes law.
"It's not like I'm breaking the ground," he said. "I'm doing what the constituents want and trying to respond to the rule of the people. Whatever the general consensus of the people is that's the way we'll vote."
Councilman Fitz called NewsWest 9 Tuesday night to let us know the ordinance passed unanimously.