St. Charles Weighs Smoking Ban Options

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ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI)-- St. Charles City is one step closer to crafting a smoking ban of some sorts.  The question is whether there will be any exemptions.

The city heard input from citizens on Monday night during the 3rd and final public hearing on whether the city should adopt a smoking ban.

Some citizens argue it`s a health issue while others argued it`s about smokers` freedoms.

The Mayor of St. Charles feels the city receives so much revenue from the Ameristar Casino that the casino should be should be exempt from any smoking ban.

She says in 2012 the casino provided an estimated $13 million in revenue for city services.

"That goes toward public safety, fire police and capital improvements," explained Mayor Sally Faith.  She predicts a smoking ban could reduce the casino`s revenues by as much as 30% and says that would result in city services being cut or raising taxes.

Some small business owners do not agree.  Many of them oppose any kind of smoking ban but say if there is one, then there should not be any exemptions.

"It`s as simple as, if you`re going to pass the rules, pass the same rules for everybody," said Tony Bethmann, owner of Tony`s on Main Street.

Across the street a, 'Ban the Ban' sign is posted on the window of R.T. Weiler`s Food and Spirits.

The owner opposes a smoking ban but hopes the city does not exempt the casino.

"I just think it`s ridiculous that once again we`re going to give them the upper hand," said owner Mark Rousseau.

Jim Franke is the Senior Vice President and General Manger for the Ameristar Casino.  He says the company in general opposes bans and feels a business should be able to run their business as they choose.

"We do not want to be placed at a competitive disadvantage with area casinos and do not want to put the jobs and benefits of our team members at risk," said Franke.