Alabama - NO smoking ban approved for restaurants in the 2010 regular legislative session..

April 23, 2010 - MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A proposal to ban smoking in Alabama restaurants failed after the state House did not vote on it Thursday, April 22nd the last day of the 2010 regular legislative session.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile, said she tried to get the bill on a list of measures to be considered by the House but was unsuccessful. The longtime smoking-ban proponent said she plans to try again next year. "I'll be back. You can count on it," Figures said.

Figures, who suffers from bronchitis and asthma, has been fighting for a statewide comprehensive smoking ban in most public areas for at least 11 years. This year, she offered a more modest bill, restricting the ban to restaurants.

But that approach drew the ire of the Alabama Restaurant Association, which argued that its members were being unfairly singled out. "We have, in the past, supported a statewide smoking ban," said Jennifer Price, a spokeswoman for the association. "We want bars and restaurants alike to be included, so it doesn't give anyone an unfair advantage."

Despite the bill's failure, Figures said she thought restricting the law to restaurants was the right approach. "I think that's definitely the way to go, is to whittle at it a little at a time, because the support is definitely not there" for a comprehensive ban, Figures said.

During a public hearing on the smoking ban earlier this month, restaurant owners said they've already taken steps to reduce secondhand smoke. "We've got a completely separate area ... separately ventilated, and has a whole separate nonsmoking area with a bathroom on the nonsmoking side," said Johnny Sullivan of Sinclair's, a popular Montgomery eatery.

But supporters of the ban said those protections didn't go far enough.

Reference: Ban on smoking in Alabama restaurants fails in Legislature by George Altman,, 4/23/2010.