Local Town Bans Smoking in Restaurants

Local Town Bans Smoking in Restaurants
By: Holly Brantley

FARMINTON, Mo. - Farmington will soon follow Paducah to become smoke free. 
Monday night, the Farmington City Council voted to ban smoking in restaurants only.  The ban does not include some places like bars.
The ordinance goes into effect 30 days from when mayor Jeannie Roberts signs it.  Roberts says that will probably happen next week.
Some business owners say while the ban's been a topic of discussion for years, Monday's decision took them by surprise.
Kirk Wishon manages 12 West Bar and Grill.  The three-year-old business is in the process of expanding.  Wishon worries what will happen once the ban takes effect.
"If it has to happen, I think the council needs to give us some leeway," said Wishon. "I'd be fine with no smoking from the time we open until maybe 8 p.m.
He's worried smokers will take their dollars elsewhere.
"If we get this commercial property development in town and we get other restaurants that allow smoking, it could shut us down," said Wishon.
Down the street, a sign at the Firehouse Grill reads: "If you are smoking, we'll assume you are on fire and take action". Smoking's never been allowed at that restaurant, so the ban may only mean more business for them.
"We get just as much business," said Jessie Andrews. "In fact, many appreciate the fact that we are smoke free."
"This will affect a lot of restaurants," said Mayor Jeannie Roberts.  Roberts feels the decision was reached too quickly.  She feels a public vote might have made more sense.
"I want to be visitor friendly and I will support a citywide ban on smoking," said Roberts. "I just don't think this is quite the way to do it."
Roberts says Farmington depends on the success of all of it's restaurants.  Like some owners, she worries smokers will take their business to nearby cities like Park Hills.
"It's just the fear that people will take their business across town," said Roberts.
Roberts says there is the possibility that the bill could be amended.  That could mean some restaurants would be able to allow smoking at certain times.  Not everyone is opposed to the ban.  Some feel it will actually bring them more business.  In April, Roberts says the public will vote on a citywide ban.