SCOTT CITY The city council has rejected a plea from a group of high school students to ban smoking in the city's nine restaurants.
"I think there is a concern among the council and myself to restrictions being put on individual businesses," said Mayor Junior Strecker. "We as patrons have the right to patronize (a restaurant that allows smoking) or not patronize it."
Emily Bryan, one of the high school students who backed the plan, said officials should advise restaurants about the dangers of secondhand smoke and identify ways to mitigate it.
Bryan and four other students approached the council last month about banning smoking at the city's restaurants because of concerns about secondhand smoke. Four restaurants in the city already prohibit smoking.
The plan did not include the city's two bars because it was targeted at establishments frequented by younger people.
The proposal was set for a vote Monday, but no council member moved in favor of the plan so that it could be brought up for formal consideration.
"The inaction stemmed from a reluctance to dictate what the private sector can and can't do," Strecker said.
Councilman Fred Kuntzsch said he was "amazed by the number of nonsmokers who called me and said, 'We don't want to do that.'"
Steve Fyler, who runs a restaurant in the city, said rules weren't necessary because patrons at his establishment police themselves.
"If someone knows a nonsmoker is in, they won't smoke until he leaves," he said. "They're very considerate of each other."