By Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis, MO – Owners of several restaurants, smoke shops and other small businesses announced their opposition today to St. Louis County's proposed smoking ban.
Proposition N will be on the county ballot November 3rd. It calls for a ban on smoking in some indoor public places, exempting casinos, smoking lounges at Lambert Airport and drinking establishments that earn 75 percent or more of their sales from alcohol.
Gerard Ezvan, owner of Jon's Pipe Shop in Clayton, says his business would be hurt by a ban.
"Owners of bars and restaurants should have the right to decide if they wish to have a smoking or non-smoking establishment. Let the marketplace decide and keep the government away," Ezvan said.
Marty Ginsburg, owner of the Sports Page Bar and Grill in Chesterfield, says the economic impact of such a ban could be devastating.
"Business is tough enough as it is now and to put another spoke in the wheel or whatever, another nail in the casket and say that nobody can smoke in bars and restaurants particularly I think it's wrong," said Ginsburg.
Proponents of the smoking ban say that, while it's not perfect, it would help reduce second hand smoke for customers and employees.
Indoor smoking is already banned in Illinois, as well as the Missouri towns of Ballwin and Arnold. Clayton has approved a ban and St. Louis City aldermen will vote soon on a ban, as well.