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Columbia's countdown to snuffing out

Monday, January 8, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:44 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The days of smoky bars and restaurants come to an end in Columbia when the city’s new anti-smoking law takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Columbia environmental health manager Gerald Worley acknowledges it could be difficult to enforce the ordinance, which prohibits smoking in nearly all public places. That’s why Worley and the other employees at the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health hope residents will police themselves.

While the ordinance’s enforcement is complaint-driven, the city is encouraging the owners of bars, restaurants and other establishments to be the first line of defense against those who fail to comply by lighting up.

“Hearsay can’t be used for much. We have to independently verify,” Worley said. “Most people, when they understand there is an ordinance, are willing to comply.”

Today, the Missourian provides details of the ordinance and what bars and restaurants are doing to prepare for it to go into effect.

Restrictions

The ordinance makes “the possession of lighted smoking materials” illegal in the following places open to the public or serving as a place of work:

  • Commercial establishments.
  • Public transportation vehicles.
  • Restrooms.
  • Libraries, educational facilities, day-care providers, museums, auditoriums and art galleries.
  • Indoor public health facilities.
  • Indoor places of entertainment including gymnasiums, theatres, concert halls, bingo halls, arenas and swimming pools.
  • Public areas and waiting rooms of public transportation facilities.
  • Enclosed places of work that are open to the public and rooms where public hearings or meetings are held.
  • Within 20 feet of entrances limited in smoking by the smoking ban.
  • Seating areas and any enclosed spaces of athletic facilities.
  • Patio areas except for areas which are exempt.

Exemptions

  • Private social functions that have separate ventilation systems or negative-pressure systems vented to the outside or places where no employees of the hosting establishment working at the function are exposed to smoke.
  • Private enclosed offices with a “ventilation system that is not shared with non-smoking offices” or that are only occupied by smokers.
  • Any theatrical production where performers use smoke on the stage.
  • Retail stores that specialize in selling tobacco products and accessories and in which the sale of other products is merely incidental.
  • Private organizations that are not-for-profit, that were established specifically for the benefit of their members, whose members pay dues, that are operated by a board of members, which are not engaged in preparing or serving food or alcohol, whose operational duties are performed by unpaid members; public engagements of these organizations are not included in the exception.
  • Patio areas of any restaurant, provided that no more than 50 percent of the patio area shall be designated as a smoking area. Additionally, this area cannot be between nonsmoking areas and the restrooms or another nonsmoking area.

Other provisions

  • Hotels and motels must designate non-smoking and smoking areas.
  • Smoking and nonsmoking signs must be visibly published in all pertaining establishments.
  • Public education of smoking and its health consequences will be continued

Penalties

  • An infraction will be issued to the person violating the smoking ban, not the establishment. The person will receive a municipal court summons and may be fined up to $200.

Complaints can be called in to the Health Department during office hours or to the 24-hour hot line at 874-7339.

The full ordinance can be found on the city’s Web site, www.gocolumbiamo.com, under the “announcements” section.


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