Jul 28, 2014

Countywide Smoking Ban? The Voters Will Decide in November

St. Charles County Council approved placing a smoking ban on the Nov. 6 ballot. County Executive Steve Ehlmann said he planned to sign it.

Countywide Smoking Ban? The Voters Will Decide in November

Voters will have the chance to vote on a county-wide smoking ban at all indoor establishments Nov. 6. 

The ballot will ask voters to consider banning smoking in all enclosed indoor places. Then voters would be asked to vote on providing an exemption for private clubs, veterans organizations and establishments that serve and employ people age 21 and up. 

The bill passed on a 4-2 vote, with members Joe Cronin, Nancy Matheny, Terry Hollander and Joe White voting in favor of the bill. Councilman Jerry Daugherty and Joe Brazil voted against the bill. Councilman Paul Wynn was present by phone and unable to vote. 

Matheny has changed her mind on the smoking ban bill in the three times it has come before the council. In the past, she's voted against a proposal to bring the issue before the voters when it did not include any exclusions. She said she supported this one because it provided a level playing field for bar owners. 

County Executive Steve Ehlmann said he would sign bill because this is a charter amendment as opposed to a health ordinance. Ehlmann vetoed a  in June 2011 because he felt if it were a health issue, it should be a ban across the board. 

"If people want a complete ban, they can vote for it and vote no on the second part," he said. "Even if you vote against it, if it passes, we're going to have exceptions, and we're going to except everything. We're not going to give the boat an exception but not the bar owner." 

Cronin initially brought this proposal forward to give voters an opportunity to vote for a smoking ban not backed by .

Councilman Joe Brazil said that government should not be involved in this issue and that it's not right for the council to pick on smokers. "Who are we going to pick on next?" he said. 

Several people spoke out against the proposal at the meeting, including Carol Gold, owner of South 94 Bistro Pub and Grill. She said she fears that a smoking ban would lead to a reduction in business. She said she knows of nine O'Fallon businesses that have had to shut down after the city enacted a smoking ban. 

"As a small business owner, we cannot afford to take that 30 percent loss in sales," she said. "The playing field should be made fair for all throughout Missouri."

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