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Council approves smoking ban on 5-0 vote

After allowing citizen input for two straight meetings, the Excelsior Springs City Council asked for no additional testimony Monday night before approving a new smoking ordinance for all enclosed places of employment and public areas.

The law remained intact from its first draft with one exception: Councilwoman Sonya Morgan made a motion to change a 25-foot buffer around the main entrance of any building where smoking is prohibited to just a 10-foot buffer, a suggestion that was seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Brad Eales and endorsed on a 5-0 vote. The ordinance itself then was approved, again on a 5-0 vote, following a motion and second by Eales and Councilman Brent McElwee.

The vote was an anticlimactic wrap-up to an issue that has had some business owners and members of organizations like the Clay-Ray Veterans Club and the Elks Lodge up in arms since voters approved the concept of a smoking ban in early April.

These individuals and others raised their concerns, citing personal freedom to run their businesses as they saw fit and pointing out that their establishments are patronized by people who are fully aware that they are entering premises where smoking is allowed. But for the most part, the council heard but did not heed the arguments.

However, a few people in favor of the ban—some of whom spoke at the last two meetings as well—were also present Monday night and also did not speak again.

The final draft of the ordinance bans the burning of tobacco products in virtually any enclosed business or public place in Excelsior Springs, including private establishments like the Elks Lodge that sometimes are open to the public for special events. The buffer zone around the main entrance was established so patrons of these establishments would not have to walk through cigarette smoke to get in or out, but only the main entrance was named so that smoking could be allowed outside a back or side door, or in an outdoor area of the business that is not accessed through the main entrance.

Officially, the only step left is enacting the law. The wording of the ordinance approved Monday night gives proprietors, owners and managers a 30-day period to inform their employees and set up their businesses to adhere to the law. That same 30-day notice also gives patrons a short grace period before enforcement of the smoking ban begins.

However, opponents of the ban hinted that they are not letting the issue drop quite yet. Some fear that the new smoking ban will adversely affect their business or, in the case of the Elks and veterans, their ability to attract members or raise funds through programs like the veterans’ weekly bingo games.

One of those who spoke at an earlier meeting, pointing out that at the machining plant where he works their productivity will be affected because smokers will now have to go outside for smoke breaks instead of smoking inside the building, even asked the Standard how many signatures would be needed to repeal the ordinance. Opponents of the ban collected several hundred signatures in a short time, but it was unclear whether they limited petition signers to registered voters or put in place any other requirements that would make the council heed the petition signers’ opinions.

Only a relatively small percentage of local voters turned out for the April 2 election, which also featured a race for a pair of seats on the Excelsior Springs Board of Education and a single seat (with a single candidate) on the council. However, the voters that did go to the polls April 2 approved the concept of a smoking ban by a margin of about 60 percent to 40 percent.

The new smoking ordinance’s wording was based on ordinances in other nearby communities that have banned smoking; city officials looked to Liberty, Gladstone, Kansas City, North Kansas City and Independence, among others, in drafting the language for the Excelsior Springs smoking ban.

By Eric Copeland • eric@leaderpress.com

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4 Responses to Council approves smoking ban on 5-0 vote

  1. Bill Reply

    June 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    We love our State wide Smoke Free Law here in Illinois and the surrounding States of Indiana, Wisconsin and Michihgan!

  2. J. Allen Smith Reply

    June 10, 2013 at 7:18 am

    The smokers will get used to it and 6 months from now they won’t think a thing about stepping out the door to smoke. If the establishments that are afraid of losing business would be proactive and establish a smoking area outside with a roof/seating and ash trays they will be good citizens.

  3. Sandy Reply

    June 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Smoking is not illegal. Yes, it is a smelly habit, but so is cooking seafood, spraying for bugs and the use of cleaning supplies. You are inhaling more nasty unhealthy particles every time you step out your door, thanks to industry and all the things listed above. What you are doing is stomping all over my civil rights! There are two simple solutions to the smoking issue for the “good citizens” of Excelsior Springs. Ventilation and the simple concept of “if you don’t like smoke (or the smell), don’t go in there!! To those of you that voted for the ban, your intolerance and selfish attitude will come back to bite you eventually….and I hope it hurts!!

  4. Allan Reply

    June 25, 2013 at 5:34 am

    Really, people love smoke-free laws Bill? I don’t know about that, since you have to take into consideration that they still infringe on the rights of businesses to decide their smoking policy on their own, and that areas without bans(or when certain types of businesses aren’t covered under either a local or state ban) already have a great number of businesses that went voluntarily no smoking on their own accord(Saint Joseph, MO being a good example of that, when you look at the voluntarily no smoking business list on Clean Air St. Joe’s site). And I don’t know if you can say it’s a great thing, when Illinois casino revenues have been down from the levels they used to be at before the IL ban started in 2008. Plus, it’s why one of the IL casinos(Harrah’s Metropolis) had to lay off 30 workers a month after the ban started.

    Hopefully, Excelsior Springs’ city council does come back to the table later and revise this ordinance at minimum to at least provide some exemptions for private clubs, though it’d be better if it allowed all adult-only businesses to decide smoking policy on their own accord.

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