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City Smoking Ban to Take Effect Saturday

After nearly 18 months of debate, St. Joseph's indoor smoking ban will take effect Saturday.
(ST. JOSEPH,  Mo.)  On the eve of st. Joseph's indoor smoking ban going into effect, it was light 'em if you got 'em at Peterman's Shamrock bar Friday afternoon.

They know tomorrow will be a different story.

"We'll take the ashtrays off first thing in the morning," said owner Stephen Peterman.

While it was last call at Peterman's for smoking, many other businesses had already made the change.

Signs outside several bars downtown were already in place saying smoking was not allowed.

At Amnesia Too, a bar and restaurant on St. Joseph Avenue, they've built an outdoor sidewalk patio to comply with the new law.

"The city was absolutely fabulous," said owner Susie Dannar. "They've got a great city council now that we were able to talk to and they are very approachable and they've listened to us and are pretty much trying to accommodate us. The city to get this done was extremely easy to work with."

The St. Joseph Health Department will be responsible for enforcing the ban, but they want people to know they won't actually be policing from bar to bar.

"Our major goal isn't to drive around and catch people in the act," said Thomas Beavers, an environmental public health specialist with the health department. "We're waiting for someone to call and complain about the situation."

Saturday is a big day at Peterman's in a lot of ways. It will be the first day of a smoking ban. It's also the day of an annual barbecue for customers.

But Peterman isn't optimistic. "People are not going to just come sit in here for hours," he said. "Especially tomorrow when they're calling for rain."

Peterman said he wasn't going to get rid of his ashtrays just yet. He says he's putting them in storage.

His lawsuit against the city and the smoking ban continues and he thinks he's going to win.

The next court hearing on the ban is in July.

Meanwhile, at the next city council meeting, members will vote to reduce the allowable distrance people can smoke next to a doorway from 15 feet to five feet.

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