Smoking ban foes inflamed by revisions

Bars and restaurants wouldn’t be exempt in revisions to a proposed anti-smoking law.
Monday, May 2, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:20 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Kevin Goodwin sits on a leather couch in the back of his store smoking a cigar. Inside the recently opened Tinder Box in the Broadway Shops development, the smoke of his cigar mixes with the smell of fine tobacco.

Even though Goodwin’s store would still be exempted from the latest proposed revisions to Columbia’s no-smoking ordinance, he remains opposed to it. He jokingly calls it the “anti-American ordinance.”

No matter the name, the proposal continues to move forward. The Columbia/Boone County Board of Health is reviewing the current ordinance. In an April 5 meeting, board members began voting on changes to the current law. Most of the previous exemptions were removed, including those for bars, restaurants and pool halls, which would be smoke-free under the new plan.

“I think the Board of Health is looking at this seriously,” said Boone County Coalition for Tobacco Concerns leader Dean Andersen.

As the progress continues, more opposition is forming against the ordinance.

Alan Dodds, president of the Columbia/Mid-Missouri chapter of the Missouri Restaurant Association, sent a letter to the Board of Health criticizing changes to the ordinance.

“The association’s stance on it is that the market will dictate what the public wants,” Dodds said.

The board’s response to the letter emphasized public health over other concerns. “What they told us was that the reason they’re not necessarily concerned with the economic issues is because they’re the Board of Health,” he said.

Dodds said he hopes the Columbia City Council will consider the negative impact the ordinance would have on businesses.

Glenn Nielsen, who attended the April board meeting, said his concern was the extent of the changes. Nielsen is a member of the Boone Liberty Coalition, a group opposing the ordinance.

“There’s more of an impact than just restaurants and bars,” Nielsen said. Private banquet rooms would also be smoke-free anytime catering staff was present, according to board meeting minutes.

The Boone Liberty Coalition’s Web site now lists 17 businesses who “strongly oppose the ban.” All are restaurants and bars except for Goodwin’s Tinder Box.

“I’m not forcing my cigar smoke down their throat,” Goodwin said. “They’re trying to force their viewpoint on me.”

It’s not a question of losing business, he said. In fact, he said his business would get better if the ordinance were passed as it would become a safe haven for smokers.

“Life’s too short,” he said. “There are so many other things out there in life to worry about.”

Once the Board of Health finishes reviewing the current ordinance it will submit the changes to the city attorney who will draft an ordinance. The draft will be submitted to the Columbia City Council, which may give the Board of Health permission to hold formal public hearings on the issue.

The Board of Health meets again Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Health Department, 1005 W. Worley St., to continue discussing changes to the current ordinance.

A portion of this report first aired Sunday during the

“ABC 17 News at 10.”

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