City Council on smoke-free law: ‘Let the voters decide’

(JOPLIN, Mo.) The Joplin City Council voted Thursday night to put a measure that would ban smoking in public places to a public vote on the April ballot, on a…

A man browses through the city ordinance which would make all public places “smoke free,” during a public meeting of the Joplin City Council. (TFJ Photo/Eli Yokley)

(JOPLIN, Mo.) The Joplin City Council voted Thursday night to put a measure that would ban smoking in public places to a public vote on the April ballot, on a 6-3 vote.

Councilman Siebert suggested the ordinance be amended to only apply to restaurants, bars, and bowling alleys.

“We’ve got information that right now that the vast majority of our businesses in Joplin have smoking policies already in place,” he said. “It is a problem inside resaurants, bars, and bowling alleys.” He said it would be “difficult” to support an ordinance spreading out of that scope.

Smoke-Free Joplin Co-Chair Krista Stark said that would not be enough.

“We don’t understand an ordinance that would exempt several different kinds of work places. Why would you protect an ordinance that would only protect bar and restaurants employees,” Stark said. “We favor a 100 percent smoke-free policy.”

Mayor Woolston said it was a matter of property rights. “The government is not your mother. If you don’t want to do something – don’t go in to those places.”

He defended his vote in favor of putting the measure on the April ballot, saying he was fighting for government to stay as close to the people as possible.

The council has to establish specific language by January, and is set to take the issue up again in November.

A similar measure is set to be on the ballot in Webb City, as well.

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