Last updated: August 28. 2013 9:46AM - 48 Views

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Gary Farr, owner of Patricia’s Mexican Restaurant, took the Jan.1 plunge by going smoke-free.

“It’s a bold move for me to say that I have a bar, and I’m going non-smoking,” he said.

Farr already had made the restaurant a non-smoking business on Sundays and said he was hoping the city would have prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars. The non-smoking trend is catching on, he said.

“It’s all over Kansas and Kansas City,” he said.

The decision, Farr said, is good for business because where to seat non-smoking customers inside the restaurant was always an issue. “I’ve had people tell me for some time that I should make the restaurant non-smoking,” he said.

“It makes it easy for me to seat all of my customers as a non-smoking restaurant. I don’t have to worry about seating people too close to the smoking section if they don’t smoke,” Farr said. “And more people tend to ask for non-smoking.”

Farr’s decision to make his business smoke-free came days before Gov. Matt Blunt’s request for state lawmakers to support an $11.6 million plan to help more Missourians quit smoking.

The proposal calls for a new smoking cessation program through MoHealthNet, the government health care program for the poor that was previously known as Medicaid.

That program accounts for $8.6 million of the governor’s proposal, which he disclosed during a press conference at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia. Another $2 million would be directed toward youth anti-smoking efforts, with $1 million to expand a statewide telephone hotline for problem smokers.

In 2005, the adult smoking rate in Missouri was 23.4 percent, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services Web site.

Thirty-year smoker Hollie Napier, a dispatcher for the Sedalia Police Department, was part of that group until four months ago.

Smokers sometimes don’t even know they want to quit, Napier said.

“I had no intention of quitting, but I always said that if they came out with that miracle pill, I would quit,” Napier said.

Napier used Chantix, a prescription medicine that helps adults quit smoking. Using the medicine costs about $100 per month, she said, but after her first day, she noticed a difference. Napier took Chantix for a week and a half before quitting.

“I always said I would never go back to smoking if I quit,” she said. “I didn’t think I wanted to quit, but in the back of your mind, you do.”

Exactly what Blunt’s proposal would fund is still unclear, but health workers would welcome any help.

“This would be a great help to a lot of the clients who can’t afford the patches,” said Trinka Wiltse, nurse manager at the Pettis County Health Center. “For optimum results, we hope would hope the government would put the money into the patches and smoking cessation classes.”

Smoking cessation classes give people the tools they need to quit, said Amy Luvin, a registered nurse at the Pettis County Health center and a Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition co-chairwoman in Pettis County.

Smoking prevention is a high priority, Luvin said. But, for those who are already addicted, cessation is just as important.

“Money for cessation would be great. Finding the money for staff time for the classes is always an issue,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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