rural Missouri smoking

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Citizens of Marshall, Mo., are discussing a possible ordinance restricting smoking in businesses and public areas.

At a Tuesday, Oct. 15 meeting, Breathe Easy Marshall, an organization of citizens, business owners and healthcare professionals, presented facts about secondhand smoke and findings from Missouri communities with smoke-free ordinances already in effect.  The panel discussed the potential effects of a smoke-free policy on general health and local businesses.

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Business owners in Sedalia say the city’s smoking ban is having an impact on their businesses. The ban, that went into effect one month ago, bans smoking inside restaurants and bars within city limits – private clubs are exempted from the ban.

At last week’s city council meeting, Sedalia council members heard from local business owners expressing concerns. Michael Gross is general manager at The Endzone Bar and Grill. He said employees are feeling the impact of the ban, which has led to changes in revenue.

Harum Helmy / KBIA News

At only 17 cents per cigarette pack, Missouri has the lowest tax for tobacco in the U.S. In 2012, Missouri voters said no to increasing that tax to 90 cents per pack. Missouri is also one of 14 states that don't have some sort of a statewide ban on smoking in non-hospitality workplaces, and/or restaurants, and/or bars. All of this adds up to the Show-Me State's top spot as the freest state in the nation when it comes to tobacco. 

But since 2007, about two dozen municipalities in Missouri have enacted a comprehensive smoking ban in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars. This Monday, rural Washington, Mo., joins that list. The City Council voted to pass the ordinance to ban smoking back in January.