Jefferson City tightens rules on smoking

Wednesday, December 17, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:53 a.m. CDT, Friday, May 16, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Another Missouri city has added its name to the growing list of places that ban smoking in restaurants.

Despite a loud outcry from restaurant owners, the City Council of Jefferson City voted 6-4 on Monday for a clean-air ordinance.

The ordinance generally prohibits smoking in restaurants. However, restaurants that make at least half their incomes from alcohol sales could still allow smoking, as could rooms leased for social functions, bowling alleys and pool halls.

The ordinance takes effect in six months.

Springfield, Mo., and Maryville also have enacted restaurant smoking ordinances.

City Councilman Clyde Angle sponsored the city’s ordinance, which also makes an exception for designated smoking areas in places enclosed with separate heating and cooling ventilation systems and airlocks.

Anti-smoking advocates said they hope restaurant owners won’t invest in those systems.

Heather Wilson, chairwoman of Cole County Partners for Clean Air, said her group had been working toward the ordinance for more than a year and a half.

Ron Leone, an opponent of the smoking ban and executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said he considered Jefferson City’s decision a “sad day for freedom.”

“In the years to come, as more and more of your personal freedoms and personal decisions are dictated by radical and vocal minorities, at least you can’t say you were never warned,” Leone said.

Angle said the impact on business won’t be as dire as some restaurant owners predict.

City Attorney Nathan Nickolaus said it will be difficult for city staff to determine which restaurants derive less than half of their incomes from alcohol sales.

But the city already can audit restaurants. To obtain a resort license, which permits alcohol sales on Sundays, some businesses already show the city that food sales comprise 50 percent of their incomes.

“Our staff is planning to enforce it on a complaint basis,” Nickolaus said. “At that point we’ll audit.”

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