Questions answered about smoking ban
A week ago the Sedalia City Council voted 6-2 to approve the Sedalia Clean Air Indoor Act, which prohibits smoking in all public places. While the ban doesn’t go into effect until September, questions about what’s included, how it will be enforced and what penalties are expected have dominated the local conversation.
Here, the Democrat looks at the ordinance and what Sedalia residents should expect.
Where is smoking banned?
Smoking is banned at all libraries; museums; bars; bingo facilities; city parks; convention facilities; elevators; facilities used for motion pictures and stage dramas; health care facilities; licensed child and adult day care facilities; lobbies and other common areas in apartment buildings, trailer parks, retirement facilities and nursing homes; polling places; public transportation including buses and taxis; restaurants; retail stores; places of meeting or public assembly; service lines; shopping malls; sports arenas including enclosed places in outdoor arenas; pool halls; subdivision homeowners’ association facilities and within 20-feet of the entrance to a building.
Where is smoking allowed?
All private residences, vehicles, private or semi-private rooms in nursing homes, designated hotel and motel rooms, retail tobacco stores, patio areas of any restaurant and businesses that have a sole proprietor.
What about private clubs?
Private clubs are exempt from the smoking ban unless a public event, such as bingo, is being held.
Are e-cigarettes included in the ban?
No. The first draft of the ordinance did include a ban against electronic-cigarettes, which emits a vapor into the air rather than smoke, but councilmembers struck it out. E-cigarettes can be used anywhere.
When does the ban go into effect?
The ordinance will go into effect at 12:01 a.m., Sept. 1. City Attorney Anne Gardner noted this date does cross a Saturday night, Sunday morning but said the ordinance would still be enforced.
“The ordinance is complaint driven, so it’s on the managers and owners (of bars and restaurants) to make sure patrons are not smoking,” she said. “Are the police going to be there at 12:01 a.m. and give people tickets for still smoking? No, but we would hope the owners are aware of the ordinance’s start date.”
What are the penalties?
Anyone who violates the ordinance will first be given a written warning and a second offense will be punishable by a fine of up to $50 for each infraction. Owners and managers of nonsmoking areas who fail to comply with the ordinance will be fined $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second violation and $500 for each additional violation within the year.
Businesses that routinely allow smoking may have their business licenses removed, Gardner added.
Who will enforce the ban?
The ordinance will be mostly self-enforced, unless additional help is needed.
“If a patron is smoking, it’s up to the manager or owner to ask them to put it out,” Gardner said. “If the person doesn’t comply, then the manager has the option to call the Sedalia Police Department. On the other side of things, if a manager does not ask the patron to stop smoking, a complaint can be made against the manager or the business.”
SPD officers could get involved if the problem is not resolve or it escalates, though Gardner noted, like any other call for service the police department receives it will be prioritized.
Are the fairgrounds included in the ban?
The Missouri State Fairgrounds are on state land and city ordinances do not apply. Currently, smoking is not allowed in any building or enclosed space or at the Pepsi Grandstand during concerts, as per a state ordinance.
“We’ve had a no-smoking policy for our buildings for years, so we’ve been a little ahead of the city on that front,” said fair director Mark Wolfe. “The only thing we do not have is specific language about no smoking within 20 feet of entrances, which is something we may be looking at changing.”
Is smoking allowed in the county?
Yes. The Clean Air Committee will likely next speak to the Pettis County Commission about going smoke free county-wide, but for the meantime all restaurants, bars and other businesses outside the city limits may allow smoking.
For more information about the Sedalia Clean Air Indoor Act, go to cityofsedalia.com or call 827-3000.
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