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Proposed health ordinance could filter out smoking in eating clubs

The public smoking ban recently proposed by the Princeton Regional Health Commission will extend to the Prospect Avenue eating clubs, according to Bill Hinshillwood, the commission's health officer.

"I don't know all the details of what the setups are at the eating clubs, but I would assume the dining rooms would be considered a public place," he said. "The common areas of the buildings would be covered under the ordinance."

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Princeton Borough Council president and lawyer Roger Martindell also said he believed the proposal would apply to eating clubs. "If it's inside the structure of the building then [the ordinance] would apply," he said.

Martindell said he interpreted the proposal to ban smoking at the eating clubs during all hours of their operation. However, Hinshillwood said he was uncertain whether the proposal would apply at all hours or to all parts of the clubs.

"I think we could talk to [the eating club officers] individually and work these things out," Hinshillwood added.

Terrace Club president Nili Safavi '01 said she was concerned by the proposal. "I think the council is overstepping their boundaries, basically," she said. "I don't think it's fair for them to regulate people's smoking."

Though she does not smoke, Safavi said she believes the proposal would infringe on personal freedom. "Perhaps in restaurants and bars it's all right, but in a place like an eating club, at least Terrace, it's almost like a home for people," she said.

Safavi added that the proposal would probably be discussed at an ICC meeting today and said she would try to speak on the issue.

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Several other University students said they were upset about the proposed ordinance and some said they doubted it could be enforced.

"I think it's another clear example of people riding their moral high horse and telling us what we can and can't do," Will Carry '00 said. "It's completely excessive and I don't think it's enforceable."

"It won't work and it's stupid," Arthur Purvis '00 said. "The police can't even come in here unless we ask them to."

Brian Bennett '00 also said he doubted the smoking ban could be enforced. "If eating clubs don't enforce underage drinking laws, why would they enforce a Borough non-smoking law?" he said.

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Students also said they believed the law could be damaging for some area restaurants and bars. "It's probably going to hurt local businesses too, especially places like the Annex," Carry said.

Despite the general objection to the proposal, student opinions varied as to whether the eating clubs would try to contest it.

Bettina Korek '00 said she did not believe the clubs would do much "because they have so many issues already with drinking."

Others, however, thought the clubs would actively resist the proposal. "I think as a result of this we're going to start a petition drive," said Carry, a member of Ivy Club.

"We'll even go to the public meeting," he added, referring to a public session the health commission has slated for next month.

An open meeting was held for local residents and business owners Tuesday night at Borough Hall to discuss the proposed ordinance, which would ban smoking in almost all public buildings in the Borough and Princeton Township.

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