For the third year in a row an effort to create a smoking ban in St. Charles County is underway.
The St. Charles County Council began considering a bill Monday night that would restrict indoor smoking, but exempt any establishment that requires customers be at least 21-years-old. That provision would mean people could continue to light up in many bars and gambling areas.
(scroll down to ready a copy of the bill)
Councilman Joe Cronin is the bill’s sponsor and said a ban is critical to protecting public health.
“Reasonably written smoking laws can be a very minimal intrusion on private business rights, but they can have tremendous health benefits, especially for the young,” Cronin said.
Cronin also sponsored a bill last year that would have put a smoking ban up for the approval of county voters. That effort failed because a St. Charles County Circuit Judge ruled the proper public notification process was not followed.
This time around the ban would have to be approved by council members and signed by County Executive Steve Ehlmann.
Carol Gold owns South 94 Bistro in St. Charles and told the council that they shouldn’t be allowed to impose a smoking ban of any kind.
“Business owners, if they’re not doing anything against the law, you need to stay out of their business,” Gold said.
Councilman Joe Brazil echoed that sentiment and said allowing people to smoke inside is a choice that should left to up to all business owners.
“I don’t think the county should be getting involved in making these kind of decisions for people when they can make their own independent decisions,” Brazil said. “They can choose to go into that place, they can choose not to go into that place, that business owner can choose if it’s a good business model to not to have it be a nonsmoking establishment. That’s the American way.”
In contrast, St. Peters resident and registered nurse Sharron Lee told council members the ban wouldn’t impact people’s freedom to smoke.
“No one is asking you take away folks’ right to smoke, if that’s what they want to do,” Lee said. “It’s only when their smoking clean indoor air that people want to breathe that this becomes an issue.”