Smoking Ban Will Go to Public Vote

Smoking Ban Will Go to Public Vote

St. Joseph City Council votes down proposed smoking ban ordinance. Now, it will go to a public vote in April.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) On an 8-1 vote, the St. Joseph City Council for a second time voted down a proposed citywide smoking ban ordinance.

However, because it was brought forward this time by a community petition drive, law requires that it go to a public vote.

"That's where it should go, to the people, so they can decide," said council member Joyce Starr, who was in the majority on the vote. "Everybody talks about how important that issue is. If it's important, then we should put it out there and let everybody decide."

Councilman Gary Roach was the lone vote for passing the ordinance as presented.

"Since day one, I've been in favor of the council passing an ordinance and then we could always tweak it a lot easier down the road," he said.

The ordinance voters will decide in April will be for a city-wide smoking ban in all public places except for the gaming floor of the St. Joseph Frontier Casino and other limited exceptions.

Though the casino was exempted, there is language included that could possibly trigger a future ban there as well.

"We want a level playing field, said Chris Krabiel, general manager of the casino. "Everyone should have the same ability to smoke on a casino floor just as our competitors do."

At the council meeting, casino representatives cited studies showing revenues dropping significantly after smoking bans at other casinos across the country. They say a similar ban in St. Joseph would be catastrophic.

"If there is a 30 percent reduction in revenues at the St. Joe, the Missouri Gaming Commission can take a look at that and decide it's no longer feasible," said Jerry Riffel, casino attorney. "It can also look at the possiblity of moving that casino."

Smoking ban supporters who had gathered more than 2,200 signatures to get the initiative petition in front of the council say they expected Monday's vote. However, they are glad the issue will finally be decided in April.

"The most important thing is we've been asking to listen to the city and we're going to get a chance for voters to say yay or nay," said Jane Schwabe, the head of Smoke Free St. Joe, the group that is working toward the ban.

The public will vote on the smoke free ordinance in a special election April 8.

Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus