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Date of Issue: December 02, 2009

Moose to vote on smoking policy

Moose members will decide next month on whether to institute a smoking ban in the Bradenton Beach lodge.

The Anna Maria Island Lodge No. 2188, 110 Gulf Drive, will hold a vote at 10 a.m. Jan. 16.

The lodge will not allow proxy votes on the issue.

A notice of the special meeting vote stated that if the vote is for no smoking, the ban will take effect Jan. 17.

If the vote fails, smoking will continue in the bar area.

Florida public health law — chapter 386 —generally bans indoor smoking “to protect people from the health hazards of secondhand tobacco smoke.”

But there are exceptions to the law.

Businesses defined as stand-alone bars — the licensed premise derives no more than 10 percent of its gross revenue from the sale of food consumed — are exempt from the smoking ban.

Membership associations such as the Moose also can be exempt, although the law contains what critics have termed a gray area.

A provision of the law states that membership association facilities are exempt “if no person or persons are engaged in work.” And work is defined as “any person's providing any employment or employment-type service for or at the request of another individual or individuals or any public or private entity, whether for compensation or not, whether full or part time, whether legally or not.”

However, the law also states that membership associations can allow for smoking in facilities if activities are performed by members and it has been interpreted to allow members to assist other members and their guests.

“A membership association, such as a Moose Lodge, can allow a member/bartender to serve food and allow smoking,” said Alexis Antonacci Lambert, press secretary for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. “This only applies if the bartender is a member of the association.”

A spokesman for Moose International said there is not an organization-wide policy on smoking, but that lodges are encouraged to provide a non-smoking area.