Panel backs ban on public smoking

Restrictions could be put on bars and restaurants
Friday, September 26, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:40 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

A cigarette with your dinner could become a thing of the past.

The city and county's Environment and Energy Commission unanimously supports a ban on indoor smoking in public places, including restaurants and bars, to reduce the dangers of secondhand smoke.

On Wednesday night, the commission officially asked the Columbia City Council to authorize a survey of Columbia businesses to research the issue of clean indoor air.

Springfield and Maryville already have enacted similar smoking bans. The Maryville ordinance, passed in July, prohibits smoking in all restaurants. The Springfield ordinance, enacted in April, prevents smoking in most restaurants but allows exemptions for some, including those that have 50 percent of sales from alcohol.

Janet Wilson, chief of the Health Promotion Unit at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said several Missouri communities are moving toward smoking restrictions.

Aaron Fenne, manager of Addison's American Grill at 709 Cherry St., doesn't think a ban would stop people from going to restaurants. Addison's has a smoking section, but Fenne said smokers would get used to smoke-free restaurants.

Chris Coffman, director of the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health and a member of the coalition, said the group is trying to measure how aware the public is about secondhand smoke.

The MU Wellness Resource Center conducted a random survey in February that asked students if they would prefer going to smoke-free bars and restaurants. Of the 600 who responded, 87 percent said they would either prefer it or that it made no difference.

Some smokers, however, are concerned. Christie Hagedorn, 21, said banning indoor smoking in public places infringes on her rights.

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