by Alan McArthur
A committee in Parkville accepted public input about considering a smoking ban in Parkville in all restaurants and bars.
More than a dozen people showed up on Monday night to give input to the committee, then the committee decided afterward to move forward with seeking a smoking ban.
The committee, appointed by Parkville Alderman Gia McFarlane, will now start with a sample ordinance from other cities and will make it applicable to Parkville. The committee has seven members including: Charlie Poole, Roger Hershey, Kevin Heaton, Denver Harris, Janice Hessell, Tracy Stevens, and Bruce Edwards.
A proposed ban on smoking would be voted on only by the board of aldermen and would not be put to a vote by citizens because Parkville is a city of the fourth class.
Some of the comments received at the public hearing included:
“I think it is the business owner's decision,” said Michael Jaeger, resident. “We don't need government to tell us what is right or wrong, let's not add any more laws.”
“I am not saying we should ban smoking, just if you have a restaurant have a non-smoking section,” said Denver Harris, resident. “I don't want to smell the smoke. It's my right to smoke; it's not my right to make you smell my smoke.”
“We've worked really hard to develop a tobacco free and a tobacco friendly environment at the Power Plant,” said Angelo Gangai, business owner. “I believe the indoor air quality supports cigar, pipe and cigarette smoking. At Outlaw (Cigar Company) people will spend $10 to $15 on a cigar and spend an hour smoking it. I think it's important to concentrate on choices.”
“We have been through a lot of adversity, we're used to adversity,” said Terry Brown, president of the American Legion in Parkville. “One problem we have now with the no smoking agenda is we have bingo and 70 to 85 percent are smokers, we have a bar business seven days a week and half or more smoke. Some halls in Kansas City have had the bingo business fall way back. If we lose 10 percent of our bingo people it would cease to be profitable and if we lose 10 percent of our bar people I don't know what we'll do.”
“Since Kansas City's ban went into effect our business has gone up over 10 percent,” said Joe Jennings, owner of Rancho Grande. “All a ban does is push people elsewhere. If we ban smoking people will go elsewhere.”
“Freedom of choice is important,” said Kelly Seymour, resident. “I think a ban would help the city grow and increase restaurant traffic. Many people choose to go elsewhere to eat besides Parkville.”
“Even if I were a nonsmoker, I would be violently opposed to a blanket ban,” said Carolyn Elwess, resident. “It should be the business owner's choice. Let business owners decide and you can decide to go there or not.”
“We have the highest sales tax in the area in Parkville,” said Jim McCall, resident. “Let's give our businesses an opportunity to have an advantage. I ask you to do nothing. Support the businesses in Parkville and just do nothing for now.”
“It's the duty of politicians to protect innocents, it is their duty to do this,” said Betty Poole, resident. “We don't eat here, now we eat in Kansas City. I applaud Kansas City for doing the unselfish thing, but Parkville could have been the first.”
After the public input session, the committee met and four members recommended a total smoking ban. Harris and Heaton recommended a ban, including a grandfather clause so current businesses could allow smoking. The attorney for Park University, Hershey, said the university did not have an official stance on the issue and declined to make a recommendation.