Friday, Oct. 12, 2012
Community responds to smoking ban
Mayor says businesses responding well
By Bethany Bashioum
It has been two months that all but a few Belton businesses have gone smoke-free.
Mayor Jimmy Odom feels the move, which went into effect at the beginning of August, has been a positive change for the community, and that business owners are adjusting well.
“I’ve heard a couple of complaints just from people who really didn’t want to see it happen, but I would say, overall, it’s been overwhelming what they wanted,” Odom said. “We deal with quality of life issues and I think people, with the vote, spoke that it was a way of life they wanted to have.”
The rally to put a smoking ban in place was brought to a communitywide vote as a citizen initiative in 2009.
In April of that year, 64 percent of voters approved the measure which gave business owners two options to get rid of secondhand smoking.
The city gave business owners a three year window to either kick out smoking at once, or delay the transition for seven years by installing a ventilation system in their business designed to curb the spread of tobacco smoke.
Bar establishments are exempt from the ban.
Family Cabin in Belton used to allow smoking in their restaurant, but actually elected to ban smoking earlier this year, before the August deadline.
“They decided that they were starting to lose more business because of the smoking, so on their own, decided to go nonsmoking,” Odom said.
Paula Williams, owner of Family Cabin, said she doesn’t think it is right for the city to tell a business what they can or can’t do, but said her decision was one that was initiated by her customers.
“We were just having too many complaints,” she said. “It’s a 50-50 thing. People that smoke don’t like it, people who don’t smoke, like it. Really, we didn’t have that many smokers when we did it, and that’s why we did it. The smokers were already not coming in as much because they didn’t like sitting in the back room.”
Applebee’s and the bowling alley in Belton are the only two eating establishments where patrons can light up if they choose, as they have ventilation systems.
Odom said that the timing for the issue was right for the city, and feels that the topic probably isn’t one out of the question at the state level.
“We have a lot of communities surrounding us, such as Lee’s Summit, and different ones, that are non-smoking ones, and I think we needed to come to that point,” Odom said. “I think we might see that in the near future where the legislature takes that up and gets that done. Overall, we see in other cities that get this thing passed, it’s a lot easier to get it done now that it’s ever been.”
According to the Cass County Health Department, Raymore is the only other community that has a smoking ban in place.
A similar ban is in the phase of being studied for possible implementation in the City of Harrisonville, as well.
“The Cass County Health Department’s mission is to promote healthy living, protect the public’s health, and prevent illnesses,” said Director Tiffany Klassen. “The health department encourages any activity that fits into this mission. Secondhand smoke has been proven to cause health effects in children as well as adults, so any action that can be taken to lessen or eliminate this risk is recommended.”