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Archive for Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Smoking bans could go before voters in two K.C. suburbs

May 30, 2006

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— Anti-smoking groups in two Kansas City suburbs say they have gathered enough signatures to put proposed smoking bans on the November ballot.

The moves in Lee's Summit and Independence give voters a chance to pass tougher smoking rules that city councils have refused to pass.

The two suburbs already have some anti-smoking laws in place but still allow patrons to light up at places including bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and bingo parlors. If passed, the new law would end such workplace smoking.

The proposals would not affect smoking outdoors or in homes.

Clean Air Lee's Summit submitted 4,800 signatures, well above the 3,708 required. Clean Air Independence submitted signatures Friday that brought its total to 4,500, above the necessary 3,433.

"Our two communities with a combined population of over 200,000 are doing more than sounding the alarm," said Ralph Ruckman, an Independence dentist who supports the anti-smoking bill. "We are going to do something about it."

Once the signatures are approved, the city councils can opt to simply pass the initiatives or go forward with the election.

Independence Mayor Don Reimal said he was inclined to put the issue on the ballot.

"With issues of this magnitude, people ought to have a right to voice their opinions," he said.

Lee's Summit Mayor Pro Tem James Freeman said the council would discuss the issue next month.

The efforts in Lee's Summit and Independence are part of a pursuit for a regional ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.

Kansas City, Mo., has passed a version of a ban, but it depends on a majority of other cities in the region to follow suit. Prairie Village, Kan., has voted to ban smoking if surrounding communities, including Kansas City, take action. Other Kansas cities that have weighed in on the issue include Olathe and Leawood, which both have discussed smoking measures. Fairway passed one; Mission turned one down.

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