Cape Girardeau City Council wants closer look at smoking ban

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Ronnie Taylor of Guthrie, Okla., left, and Brendan Green of Omaha, Neb., take a smoking break May 27 outside Big John's pool hall in Omaha. A major report confirms that bans on smoking in restaurants, bars and other gathering spots reduce the risk of heart attacks among nonsmokers. (Associated Press file)

The Cape Girardeau City Council wants to take a closer look at a ballot measure that will likely ask voters in April to ban smoking in all public places, including bars, restaurants and casinos.

The council briefly discussed the smoking ban proposal at its meeting Monday night but ignored the topic of what effect the ban would have on Isle of Capri's $125 million casino that will be built on North Main Street.

"I'd like to take the opportunity to digest this," council member Mark Lanzotti said. "It's a decision we're going to have to make, but we've got time."

But not much time.

The council was told that the petition signatures calling for a vote of the people was certified Friday. City attorney Eric Cunningham said that means the council has 60 days from Friday to act.

"The certification starts the clock ticking," Cunningham said.

If the election is to be on an April ballot, Cunningham said the council will have to set an ordinance setting the date and the state has to be notified by Jan. 25. If the council doesn't enact the smoking ban exactly as proposed, then the initiative will go before voters, he said.

But Cunningham also told the council it could call the election as an emergency measure and would not have to put it through the process of first reading and on the final passage. It could be done at one council meeting, he said.

The smoking ban will be listed on the agenda at the council's next meeting as a topic of discussion.

Breathe Easy Cape Girardeau, a group of residents worried about the dangers of secondhand smoke, collected the required signatures.

Dale Humphries, a member of the organization, spoke to the council at Monday's meeting.

"We feel like all residents in bars, restaurants and other public places, including casinos, have the right to breathe smoke-free indoor air," Humphries said. "We do see this as a public health issue."

She pointed out that 20 other Missouri cities have passed smoking bans.

"I see Cape Girardeau as a very progressive community," she said. "We want to see us continue to do things that are healthy for our citizens and our employees."

smoyers@semissourian.com

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Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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