JEFFERSON CITY — No opposition came before the Senate Judiciary Committee to protest a proposed statewide smoking ban Monday evening.
The bill would prohibit smoking in public places, including restaurants, shopping malls and sports arenas. It is more comprehensive than the smoking ban that was passed in St. Louis City and County, which exempts casinos and bars where food sales are less than 25 percent of overall sales.
The state ban would supersede any city bans.
"Secondhand smoke is a toxin," said Jason Sharp, Phelps County Regional Medical Center's director of radiation oncology.
He was one of many who pushed the negative effects of secondhand smoke at the hearing.
Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, who chairs the committee, asked if eating french fries should also be banned because it negatively impacts taxpayers who have to pay for Medicaid costs related to obesity.
"Because that's the slope were on," he said. Bartle said he finds smoking offensive and would support the bill but is concerned that a de facto ban on smoking might lead to banning other habits.
Other proponents of the bill also pointed to increased Medicaid and Medicare costs related to diseases caused by smoking and the minimization of social smoking to those trying to quit.