City Holds Hearing On Smoking Ban
(A Telegraph Report)
City officials held the first of several public hearings Tuesday morning on a proposed smoking ban in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
About 35 people in attendance seemed fairly evenly split between those who favored the ordinance and those opposed. Several sported “Clean Air St. Joseph” shirts as well as “United Freedom Coalition” shirts.
City Manager Bruce Woody (picture at right) opens discussion on the proposed ordinance.
Health Director Debra Bradley (on Mr. Woody’s right) explained the ordinance would ban smoking in all restaurants; but allow it in the casino, small bars and allow it in larger bars that provide seperate ventilanted smoking and non-smoking sections.
Bob Meeks, co-founder of the United Freedom Coalition, said the issue is about freedom.
Steve Holdenreid expressed concerns for workers breathing second hand smoke at their workplace.
Former City Council Member Mike Bozarth said a ban would erode property rights. “The Health Director said about 84% of local restaurants are already smoke free. The business owner should be allowed to decide.”
Bozarth also called for a “Truth In Smoking” ordinance that would require businesses to post whether or not smoking is allowed inside on entrance doors as a compromise.
An estimated 31% of city residents are smokers.
Adam Brown also defended property owners and their rights.
Several people spoke to the rights of property owners to decide, including Peggy Crabtree; Tom Cobb of Acme Music, Dave Richardson of Southside Family Fun Center, Jeff Cook of The Rear View, among others.
Sara Summers of Clean Air St. Joe claimed health benefits in seeking to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.
Darrell Meeker defended smokers being able to do so in their homes, but likened smoking in public to a dog urinating on someone’s shoes.
Downtown resident Jim Sonkin says he only patronizes establishments that ban inside smoking.
Council Member Pat Jones, a non-smoker, said she favored putting a smoking ban to a public vote.
Besides Council Member Jones, Mayor Bill Falkner and Deputy Mayor Byron Meyers were also in attendance.
Six more public hearings will be held in the Council Chambers: tonight at 7 p.m.; 3 p.m. Feb. 7th; 7 p.m. Feb. 11th; 9 a.m. Feb. 15th; 3 p.m. Feb. 20th; and 7 p.m. Feb. 25th.