The Joplin City Council on Monday night declined to place on an election ballot a workplace smoking ban sought by Smoke-Free Joplin, and the organization now will decide whether to launch an initiative petition drive.
Smoke-Free Joplin had sought a ban of smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars and private clubs. The council, after a public hearing in which some local bar owners and private club operators objected to a prohibition of outdoor patio smoking and a ban of smoking in private clubs, exempted both and agreed to place a smoking ban with those exceptions on a ballot for a public vote.
The organization then asked City Manager Mark Rohr for a copy of the ordinance as it would read with the council’s exemptions. When the organization returned it to city officials, the group restored the private club exemption that the council had agreed not to pass.
Three representatives of the group asked the council Monday night to move the issue forward by either approving the ordinance as the group submitted it or place it on an election ballot for a public vote.
Greg Lesley, of Lesley Business Centers, said Joplin is a 1st Class city and could continue to move the community forward by taking favorable action on the workplace smoking prohibition.
Jeff Keener, treasurer of the Smoke-Free coalition, told the council that members feel strongly that all workers should be protected from second-hand smoke and that the group would only support it on the ballot if presented to voters with the private club restriction in place.
Del Camp, of Ozark Center, said that clients in the center’s smoking cessation programs had told him that it is very hard to quit smoking when they are exposed to it in bars and restaurants. Some could not quit without being forced by an employer or other such means, he said. “This may be the one thing they need to step forward and do the thing they need to do,” to stop smoking, he told the council of the organization’s smoking ban.
One resident, Larry Thomas, 1930 E. 20th St., said he is a smoker and he would rather see the issue put on a ballot instead of the council enacting it. He said those who wish to abolish smoking have turned to city bans because the federal and state governments have stopped short of enacting bans.
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