I've been talking with legislators and candidates over the last few weeks as we move toward the election, and I can tell you that nobody is talking about repealing local smoking bans. They aren't even bringing up the topic unless prompted.
Speaking to one conservative legislator, the conflict was presented like this:
1. Of course, most GOP legislators (who are in the majority in the Statehouse) want it to be a business owner's decision.
2. But, as staunch supporters of home rule (at least on everything but budgets), they also have a desire to leave these decisions up to the local municipalities.
So, while a legislator or two supporting smokers and bar owners might propose legislation this winter, it's more than likely that any bill without resounding support will sit in purgatory until it expires in June 2010. The lesson: cigarette lobbiests and concerned bar owners need to abandon the direct path, because it doesn't look like these fish are going to bite. And smoking ban supporters can breathe a little easier.