JEFFERSON CITY — A group is seeking to ban smoking in Jefferson City bars and restaurants.
The Jefferson City News Tribune reported that advocates contend they want to restrict smoking because of the health risks from secondhand smoke and are not opposed to the right to smoke. The proposal is backed by the group Smokefree Jefferson City.
"This is about having a healthy community, not infringing on people's rights," said Felicia Poettgen, a spokesman for the group. "This is why we started the petition, so that it can get it on the ballot and the people of Jefferson City can decide if this is something they want."
Supporters must get backing from 20 percent of the votes cast during the last mayoral election — about 800 signatures. The Jefferson City Council would then accept the measure and enact it as an ordinance or reject the proposal and place it on the ballot.
The proposals backers last week stood outside various polling places to collect signatures during municipal elections in Jefferson City.
Councilwoman Carrie Carroll has placed a copy of the smoking petition in her downtown store. Carroll said she personally has supported smoke-free businesses and has many constituents who support the ban.
"Whether it passes is up to the residents of Jefferson City," Carroll said. "this is not a council-led effort. This is the people of Jefferson City wanting their voices heard."
Columbia already has similar restrictions. And another mid-Missouri town is considering its own smoking ban.
The Fulton City Council earlier this year has decided to let voters decide whether to impose an indoor smoking ban across the city after several months of debate. Westminster College in Fulton also plans to ban smoking on the campus — even outdoors.
The campus smoking ban takes effect July 1 and was enacted to make the school's environment, safer, healthier and cleaner.