Indoor Smoking Ban Passes In St. Joseph

Date 2014/4/9 4:59:18 | Topic: News

(newspressnow.com)- More than a year after the process first started, a smoking ban passed by 818 votes in Tuesday’s general election. The results stayed close throughout the entire night; at one point the ban only led by eight “yes” votes.
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Members of Smoke-Free St. Joseph, the group which began the ballot initiative, crowded around iPhones at Norty’s Bar & Grill to watch the results come in. When 100 percent of the votes were counted, the entire restaurant was filled with applause, high-fives and hugs.

Dr. Jane Schwabe, co-chair of Smoke-Free St. Joseph and deputy secretary of the campaign, thanked all the supporters for their efforts in getting the ban passed. She added she is “overwhelmingly excited and thankful” for the high voter turnout, which reached 32.2 percent.

Unofficial election results show the smoking ban passed 52.75 percent (7,849 votes) to 47.25 percent (7,031 votes). However, only seven of the 18 precincts voted to pass the ordinance.

Dr. Schwabe said she believes the public voted “yes” to the ban because they saw the success of other communities in Missouri, as well as its surrounding states.

“They want something better for their kids, and this is one step to do that,” she said. “I’m thrilled. I think it brings us up into a more modern era.”

The ban will go into effect June 7.

Smoking will no longer be allowed in any indoor place of employment, including all bars and restaurants. It still will be allowed, however, on the St. Jo Frontier Casino gambling floor, but not in its bar or restaurant, until all other casinos in the Kansas City area go smoke-free. It also will be allowed in 10 percent of hotel rooms and in private clubs when no employees are present.
Dr. Schwabe said Smoke-Free St. Joseph and Clean Air St. Joseph will now work with business owners to help transition to a smoke-free environment.

According to the ordinance, businesses will be required to post “No Smoking” signs inside and at the entrances, as well as remove all ashtrays. Anyone not in compliance will be fined $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second violation and up to $500 for each additional violation in a one-year term.

“I know change is hard,” she said. “We’ve got two months to transition and I want this to be a collaborative good thing for the community, and not so divisive.”

Scott Tucker, one of the leaders of the opposition and owner of the Belt Sports Complex, said Citizens for Fairness in Missouri has not had time to process the results or figure out a plan from here.

“The process has gone through and the people have spoken,” he said. “We live by what they say and try to deal with it the best we can.”
Citizens for Fairness in Missouri were adamant from the beginning that only a comprehensive ban — that included the casino — would not harm small businesses.



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