St. Charles Co. could ban smoking in all enclosed public areas

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ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI) - The smoking ban debate heated up again in St. Charles County in a council meeting Monday night.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there was no formal vote, but there was an indication of the future of this bill.  That future seemed cloudy.

The proposal would ban smoking in every enclosed public area in the county.  The only exceptions would be businesses where only adults who are 21 years and older have access, like a bar, nightclub or Ameristar Casino.

The proposal would let businesses allow smoking if they impose the age restrictions.  An example would be a restaurant that is smoke-free except for in an enclosed bar area.

The ban would apply to both cities and unincorporated areas. Cities could impose stricter bans.  Existing bans would stay in place.  For instance, O’Fallon and Lake St. Louis have no exemptions for bars.

Bill sponsor Joe Cronin, R-St. Paul, said he just wants to see a healthier St. Charles while keeping the rights of business owners intact.

Opponent Joe Brazil, R-Defiance, said the bill is taking freedom of choice from residents and customers.

Last year, a judge stopped the county from putting the proposal on the November 2012 ballot, citing procedural issues.  This year, Cronin wanted to see the proposal become law through a council vote.

Monday night, council members indicated they were split on if they would support this bill in future voting.

The debate rages in the public and online with supporters having a Facebook page called “Smoke-Free St. Charles” and opponents blogging on the “Unite For Missouri” website.

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