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Two County Smoking Bans Could Be On November Ballot

Councilman Joe Cronin, District 1, introduces a bill to place smoking ban before voters. Another smoking ban amendment has been proposed by a political action committee funded by Ameristar Casino.

voters may get the chance to vote on two different proposed smoking bans this fall, one of which is backed by Ameristar Casino, another proposed by a councilman.

County Councilman Joe Cronin, R-district 1, introduced a bill on Monday that puts the smoking ban before voters on the Nov. 6 ballot. His bill includes exemptions for casinos, private residences, private clubs with no employees and retail tobacco stores. This is his third time trying to place a smoking ban on a ballot. (Read about his earlier efforts and ).

Cronin said the bill is modeled after an earlier bill that was , with a few changes. He said he was prompted to propose it again to give voters a choice in November.

"I think voters deserve something better than a health ordinance that was written by the casino," Cronin said. "That's why I wrote this ordinance."

The county council is expected to vote on Aug. 27 on whether Cronin's proposed ban should appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

A smoking ban proposed by the Committee for Economic Liberty, a political action committee, would also exempt , as well as businesses open to people ages 21 and over, among other exemptions, according to an article in the Suburban Journals. Ameristar Casino has donated $100,000 to the PAC.

"The issue isn't all about smoking, it's about restricting property rights," Carl Bearden told the Journal.

Ameristar Casino General Manager Jim Franke that a smoking ban would reduce Ameristar’s revenue by at least 20 percent.

Bearden's committee submitted petitions with more than 22,856 signatures to the on Aug. 8 to have their proposed ban put on the ballot.

Bob Hoeynck, associate county counselor, told the council that the language in the initiative petition may not be legally sufficient. Hoeynck was asked by the Election Authority to evaluate the petition.

Hoeynck said he identified two types of problems with the petition, the first, that the petition submitted doesn't set out the entire amendment in its full text, and secondly, that the proposal doesn't contain a statement that explains what the limits are between a ban in unincorporated and incorporated parts of the county.

The Election Authority was about one-third of the way finished checking signatures in the petition, Hoeynck said.

The Election Authority would likely make a decision about whether the proposed ban would be on the ballot by Aug. 28, the final day to have items placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.

If the Election Authority's decision is challenged in court, a judge could order the Election Authority to place an item on the Nov. 6 ballot anytime before Sept. 25, which is six weeks before the election, said County Counselor Joanne Leykum.

County Councilwoman Nancy Matheny said everyone on the council has different opinions about smoking bans and the council will have to talk over the next two weeks about whether they can reach agreement on Cronin's proposed smoking ban exemptions.

"We have people who want no regulation of smoking and we have people who want total regulation of smoking or a smoking ban," she said. "Our goal will be to find out if we can get four without a veto or five so a veto wouldn't matter.

Cronin's Proposed Smoking Ban: 

The County Council would have to approve placing the charter amendment to ban smoking on the ballot. Here's a summary of Cronin's proposed language to appear on the ballot.

Smoking would be prohibited in:

  • Enclosed public places including theaters, bars, bingo facilities, restaurants, sports arenas, among others;
  • Outdoor places including outdoor arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters;
  • Enclosed residential facilities including rooms in nursing homes, and 80 percent of motel and hotel rooms.

Exemptions:

  • Private residences;
  • Private clubs with no employees present;
  • Retail tobacco stores used for sale of smoking materials where more than 70 percent of business is for smoking,
  • Gambling facilities until all licensed gambling facilities located in the relevant area are obligated to prohibit smoking.
Mike Heffner August 14, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Gary, what is so hard to understand about the rights of other people? Sure you have the right to smoke, but when your right prevents others from their right to breathe clean air, your right should be restricted. Speaking of "Heavy Handed", the casino should be barred from making any political contributions. Smoking should be banned completely unless in private residences, or tobacco/cigar bars. smoking rules at the entrances of Walmart, the Malls, restaurants etc should be expanded to include the entire parking lot. Smoking is absolutely a disgusting habit that kills millions of people, yet it is still allowed by law? why? oh yea......money.
Elizabeth August 14, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Mike, you DO have the right to breathe clean air. What you seem to lack is the capacity or willingness to exercise it. It's called "choice". You choose not to go into places that allow smoking. Walmart, etc are privately owned businesses. Those places have chosen to be smoke free. Not all private business owners want to be smoke free. Some are actually smokers themselves and want to be able to smoke on the property they've spent their time and money to own. You seem to be forgetting that the property you're complaining about is indeed PRIVATE. Just because the public is invited on to it by the owner doesn't make it public. We're not talking about government buildings here or public spaces such as tax-payer funded parks. We're talking about private properties that offer luxury services. That's right, going out to eat or to the bar is a luxury/privilege not a necessity. If someone is going to go to the trouble to offer me a luxury service (on their hard work and investment) I don't have the right to tell them how to run it. I DO have the right to not enter their building if they allow smoking....which is where your "right" comes into play. So Please, by all means exercise your right to breathe clean air. You can do that without trampling on someone else's right to smoke or allow smoking on their property. Overeating is a disgusting habit that kills more people than smoking. Following your logic it should be banned completely except private residences.
W. Robert Williams August 14, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Smoking Rules at the entrances of Walmart, Malls, Restaurants, etc.? You mean the rule that you have to stop here, AT THE DOOR, and finish your smoke before entering? That rule?! The unspoken rule where the establishments provide an outdoor ash tray by the each possible door? Mr. Heffner, What color car do you drive? Wait, doesn't matter... I find that color to be offensive so I think we should pass an ordinance that you are only allowed to operate that vehicle on your private property or at car dealership parking lots that sell cars of the exact same color. You chose to purchase a vehicle of that color, but I don't agree with your choice so you shouldn't be able to operate with where I could potentially see it. I agree that smokers should be more considerate while in public and attempt to keep their nasty habits from disrupting others, but I do not agree that public parking lots should be considered a smoke free zone. I think if places are going to not allow indoor smoking to take place, then they should provide an area for smokers to visit when they are looking to enjoy a smoke. Your argument opens with "What is so hard to understand about the rights of other people?" and then later say "smoking should be banned completely(unless in private residence, or tabacco/cigar bars)." Does that mean you think non-smokers should be the only one with rights? You, sir, are being a bit ridiculous to me.
J. Dicks August 16, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Yes Money. See, you get it. Why are you acting so confused? People want to smoke, their is money behind it, you're idealism is adorable.
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