The newly-resuscitated Globe-Democrat, in an Internet-only reincarnation, reported on the latest St. Louis municipality to embrace 100% smoke-free indoor air with the following story.
Kirkwood rings in smoke-free new year
By Jordan Lanham
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Kirkwood residents will kick off 2010 with a breath of fresh air.
For bar and restaurant patrons across the city–a smoking section will no longer be an option come Saturday when the city’s voter approved smoking ban takes effect. The city has prepared for the change by sending letters and copies of the new ordinance to local business owners. Kirkwood Mayor Art McDonnell is looking forward to the change and what it will mean to the city.
“I hope it will be a positive change for our restaurants,” he said. “I’m hoping they see an upsurge in people who come for the smoke-free environment.”
The Kirkwood ban takes effect exactly a year before the St. Louis County wide ban and allows fewer exemptions to the law. The county wide ban exempts cigar bars and bars where food sales contribute no more than 25% of sales, but you won’t find any smoky bars in Kirkwood. McDonnell said the city’s limitations are tighter than those proposed by the county by the choice of Kirkwood voters.
“There are a lot of people concerned about the health aspect and I think it’s a legitimate concern,” he added. Some look forward to saying goodbye to smoke.
“I am in favor as an ex-smoker, “said Peggy Litzsinger of Manchester, who frequently dines in Kirkwood. Litzsinger smoked for 30 years and decided to quit after watching the habit kill a close friend. She said maybe the restriction will help others quit.
Some managers and owners of local restaurants and bars worry the restriction will be bad for business.
Rose Wheeler, manager of Spencer’s Grill on South Kirkwood Road said the ban isn’t bad for business but questionable for America.
“It should be a business owner’s decision,” she said. “It’s bad for the country when stuff like this happens.”
Anne Vaporean of Kirkwood said she used to be bothered by her mother’s secondhand smoke and the ban will provide a better environment in restaurants. But she says she didn’t vote on the issue because she didn’t feel the decision was up to her.
“If people want to smoke then that’s their business,” she said.
Officials in cities that implemented smoking bans a few years ago say it was a step in the right direction.Ballwin Alderman Jane Suozzi said when the city limited smoking in public areas in 2006 at first there was outrage because people felt a right had been taken away.
“But it’s a health issue not a rights issue,” she said.
She added that both businesses and patrons have been cooperative and so far the police haven’t written any tickets for violations. Because of their success, Ballwin officials have encouraged other municipalities to adapt to smoking limitations. Suozzi said she thinks the St. Louis County wide ban set to take effect in 2011 is a positive move and hopes in the future there will be a push from the state level to tighten limitations and extend to places like casinos where smoking will still be permitted.
“The benefits are intangible on the smoke-free side,” she said.
Supporters of the county wide limitations are glad to see Kirkwood on board. Martin Pion and his non-profit organization MoGasp, pushed for legislation to make public places a safe place to breathe in St. Louis County and he is glad Kirkwood is on board a year early.
“I think it’s wonderful, “he said. “They’ll demonstrate once again that such public health measures are supported by a majority of the population.”
richinstl (anonymous) says…
I may start dining out in Kirkwood thanks to the smoking ban. Thank you citizens of Kirkwood! You have earned my money!
January 1, 2010 at 10:36 a.m.