Enforcing Columbia's Smoking Ban
That concerns Worley because smoking rules apply to individuals and business owners.
Here's how the smoking ban works: a customer in a Columbia business calls the city health department to complain about someone smoking. The the health department then issues the smoker a warning. If the health department gets more complaints about the same smoker or business, then the police department gets involved. The police can write a ticket that could cost violators up to $200.
"We've had discussions with the police department about how we could ask for their assistance should we need that. We're of course hopeful that's not necessary, but it may be. And if it is, we're prepared for it," Worley said.
Although Worley is prepared, he may not have much to do. A Columbia businesswoman has drafted and passed a petition to reverse the ban. Tiger Club owner Betty Hamilton passed the petition out to area businesses, but she will need 2,000 signatures before April 3rd to get the petition before the City Council. The Council can either accept or reject the petition. If rejected, Columbia voters would decide the ban's fate.
Hamilton says the ban hurts her business and that individual businesses should be able to set their own policies.
Columbia's city council approved the smoking ban on October 10 of last year with a close vote of 4 to 3. Around the same time, hospital leaders around Columbia began to enforce a ban on smoking on all hospital property. However, Missouri voters rejected Amendment 3 which would've placed a tax on tobacco to fund treatment of smoking related illnesses.
The American Lung Association released a smoking report card today and Missouri received a failing grade in three of the four categories. Missouri got an 'F' in smoke-free air, tobacco prevention and control spending, and cigarette tax. The Show-Me state got a 'B' in youth access, meaning Missouri does a good job of preventing adolecents from buying cigarettes.