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HOLTS SUMMIT - The city of Holts Summit is now largely smoke-free after its aldermen voted in favor of an ordinance restricting smoking in public areas in a meeting Thursday.

"Business owners will make the decision for their business whether they want to be smoking or non-smoking," city administrator Rick Hess said. "That's up to them. The city will have zero input on that. What we do ask is that if people are outside smoking, we ask that it be fifteen feet or more away from the doors." 

The ordinance will cover public buildings owned or operated by the city and in open areas within 25 feet of the entrance of a government building. Hess says the city wants non-smokers to feel comfortable if they're going to a restaurant. He added businesses should be able to make the decision for itself whether it should smoking or non-smoking.

There will also be restrictions on city parks.

"We'll have signs ordered that will designate smoking areas in parks so that we don't have people smoking right near playground areas,"Hess said. "We'll have them set up far away enough that it won't disturb the children playing and parents are able to see and interact with their kids."

The ordinance will also carry $50 to $250 in potential fines. 

Hess said the city began working on the ordinance about three to four months ago after receiving a local organization that called for the city to ban all smoking. Hess said at the time, the city wasn't ready to take such a big step.

As a former smoker himself, Hess can see the good this ordinance will have.

"I'm a former smoker and I know there are times I was kind of blissfully unaware that where I happened to smoke might be infringing on somebody else's rights," Hess said. 

According to Hess there are only two businesses remaining as "smoking" establishments that won't restrict where customers can smoke around their business. Felipe Fernandez is manager of El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant, not far from one of those businesses. His business also restricts smoking. 

"I wanted to remain non-smoking for people to come in and enjoy their meal without all the smoking in it and personally I'm allergic to cigarettes," Fernandez said. "It's one of the main reasons I don't allow smoking."

Despite smoking being restricted at his restaurant, Fernandez doesn't think the city needed to pass the ordinance. 

"As long as you do it outside...you could be doing your smoking a couple of feet away from my place and it will not affect the customers in here. I don't think the law is going to affect my business," he said.

Fernandez says if people like the food, they will still go to a business if they really want to, smoking or non-smoking. He says despite his views he will follow the city in regards to this matter. 

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