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All but 12 of the 50 states have some sort of ban on smoking in public places. Missouri is one of the dozen without a statewide regulation.
In Missouri, many local governments have imposed smoking bans, some more restrictive than others. Now a bill -- one of several regarding the use of tobacco products -- has been introduced in the Missouri Legislature that, if passed, would be one of the most restrictive bans anywhere. It would allow exemptions only for some hotel rooms and for businesses whose primary source of income is from tobacco products. Legislative leaders are uncertain of the bill's prospects.
Smoking regulation is a topic that tends to prompt heated debate. Advocates of banning smoking in public places cite heath concerns, both from smoking and from secondhand smoke. The American Cancer Society and the American Heart and Lung Association support the proposed Missouri bill.
But many businesses say any decision about smoking limits should be up to business owners, not the state or federal government. These advocates of smoking privileges say their customers can decide whether or not to patronize them without government sanctions.
Legislative debate is one way to inform Missourians about both sides of this issue.