Lee's Summit, Mo. Smoking will be barred in many bars and restaurants in three months in this Kansas City suburb under an ordinance that was approved amid pressure from anti-smoking groups.
After city officials initially refused to pass a tough ban, anti-smoking groups gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the November ballot. It was widely expected to win at the polls, despite problems with its wording.
For instance, it referred to combustible materials instead of tobacco. The wording raised concerns that the ordinance could be interpreted as banning everything from fireplaces to candles on birthday cakes.
Concerned the measure would pass despite the questionable wording, a council subcommittee met with petition leaders and forged a compromise smoking ban. Council members voted 7-0 Thursday to approve the compromise. It bars indoor smoking at public places, except for a handful of establishments.
The council also voted to put a question on the November ballot, giving residents the opportunity to eliminate exceptions included in the ordinance.
Among the exceptions are two restaurants that built separate ventilation systems and rooms for smoking. They will be "grandfathered" for seven years. Also exempted are a tobacco shop and a handful of taverns that don't admit anyone under 21 years old and have food sales less than 10 percent of revenues.
Steve Salanski, a physician who is co-chairman of Clean Air Lee's Summit, said the ordinance meets most of the group's concerns.
Councilman Ed Cockrell unsuccessfully argued for a clause to delay enforcement until more communities had similar laws.
"For a while, we'll have our bars and restaurants at a disadvantage," he said.
The efforts in Lee's Summit are part of a pursuit for a regional ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.