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To smoke or not to smoke?

Parkville ponders potential ban

by Kim Fickett and Ivan Foley
Landmark staff

A debate over smoking has the potential to spark some flames at Parkville.
If at least one Parkville alderman gets his h, public smoking in Parkville restaurants will soon be a thing of the past, though it appears opposition to the idea is lining up as the board of aldermen prepare to debate the proposed municipal ban on smoking in public places.

Alderman J.C. “Charlie” Poole is asking the board to consider a municipal ban on smoking in public places.

Poole, who described the non-smoking bans as “a wave of the future," is one of many across the country battling for the implementation of the smoking ban in public places.

“This is a growing issue in a lot of communities,” Poole told The Landmark this week. “What it really comes down to is a health care issue and the cost that it affords all of us in the end.”

Copies of a survey were distributed that revealed cities that already have such regulations in place. However, Poole didn’t request any action until after further discussion at the Sept. 21 meeting of aldermen.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the will of the board of aldermen,” Poole said. “I feel that people should have the right to have a smoke-free establishment.”

Tom Hutsler, president of the Parkville Main Street Association, believes that while the future may include a municipal smoking ban, it’s an issue for a higher level of government.

“I believe that no smoking in a public establishment is inevitable. But I think we need to look at approaching this from a state or local level, not little ‘ol Parkville,” stated Hutsler.

While Hutsler says the Parkville restaurants will cooperate with the board’s decision, he feels the ban would put an economic pinch on local business owners.

“These businesses are really important to the Parkville area. They’ve spent a lot of time and money to build their customer base,” explained Hutsler. “These little restaurants can’t afford a 15-25% drop in business because smokers are going to other establishments that don’t have the ban.”

Jim McCall, owner of Papa Franks restaurant at 2 East 2nd Street, Parkville, agrees with Hutsler.

“I have no problem with the ban as long as it doesn’t create a disadvantage for us, with other restaurants outside of Parkville. If they do it, they need to keep it on a level playing field and do it in context with other cities in the area,” said McCall.

For Mayor Kathy Dusenberry, she also feels the Parkville restaurants may feel an economic downshift if a smoking ban was implemented.

“To be quite honest, economically I’m not for it. I’m not a smoker, and my husband lost his mom to lung cancer,” said Dusenberry. “It’s not good for Parkville economically. There’s so much competition in the restaurant business these days, and if we take such a strong stand on an issue it could hurt us economically.”

Currently, at least two Parkville restaurants have voluntary placed a ban on smoking, including Piropo’s and Cafe Des Amis.

For Dusenberry it comes down to letting each establishment make its own choice on what’s best for its business and patrons.

“We have two restaurants already that are smoke free. If it's so good for the restaurant business, why don't more of them become smoke-free? The rest of them can go smoke free if they want to, but let it be their choice,” Dusenberry remarked.

"Not one citizen has ever complained to me about smoking. We don't really have any taverns, we have nice restaurants. Why do we need to dictate?" she added.



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