Smoking ban petitions missing

Signed petitions targeted at overturning a city smoking ban have been disappearing from Topeka businesses, and organizers of the petition drive say they were stolen.

Topeka police Capt. Jerry Stanley said Thursday that Gail Trembley, an organizer of the drive, filed a police report Wednesday indicating petitions were missing from several businesses. Stanley said it wasn’t clear how many petitions were gone.

Stanley said the responding officer took an “incident” report of the type police generally fill out when they see no clear criminal wrongdoing but think the situation merits further review as to whether criminal activity was involved.

Trembley said Thursday petition organizers wouldn’t pursue theft charges if whoever took the signed petitions returns them. She said the petitions may be turned in by calling her at (785) 408-8984 or e-mailing her at

The petition drive, initiated in October by Topekans Against the Ban, seeks to overturn the Topeka City Council’s Sept. 29 passage of a clean air ordinance banning smoking in most public places.

Petition drive organizers must acquire 5,744 valid signatures of registered Topeka voters within 180 days of the date of the first signature on the petition to force the council to either overturn the ordinance or give the public a vote on whether to overturn it.

Topekans Against the Ban had gathered 3,838 signatures as of Monday, the group indicated Thursday on its Web site.


Topekans Against the Ban, the group behind a petition drive seeking to overturn a smoking ban that went into effect last week, is holding a contest over the weekend of Dec. 18 to 20 in which przies for collecting the most signatures will be awarded to a petition circulator, a bartender and a bar.

The contest will run from 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, until 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20.

A $50 cash prize and a pair of front-row tickets to a Topeka RoadRunners hockey game will be available for the top circulator and bartender. The one gathering the most signatures will choose which of the two prizes to receive, and the other will get the other prize.

Also, the bar that collects the most signatures will receive free disc jockey service for one night from DJ John Winkenwader.

All bars, bartenders and circulators who want to participate are asked by Saturday, Dec. 12, to call Gail Trembley at (785) 408-8984 or Andrew Gray at (785) 231-4367.


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