Topeka Lawrence bar and restaurant owners Wednesday brought their dissatisfaction with a Lawrence indoor smoking ban to the Capitol to fight against a proposed statewide ban.
"I believe government has no role in accommodating personal preferences at the expense of private business," Chuck Magerl, owner of Free State Brewery, told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The committee is considering Senate Bill 37, which would prohibit smoking in public, indoor areas.
Magerl said if the state believes secondhand smoke is devastating to nonsmokers, then it should "have the courage to ban the sale of tobacco in Kansas."
Several other Lawrence businessmen wrote letters to the committee telling them that the 2 1/2-year-old Lawrence ban has hurt their establishments.
Tom Conroy, owner of Conroy's Pub, said that since the smoking ban went into effect, he has had to cut his work force from 27 to 13 because of a loss of business.
"A smoking ban, in my experience, is bad for business," Conroy wrote.
But proponents of the Lawrence smoking ban and numerous health officials testified in favor of the measure.
Kathy Bruner, chairwoman of Clean Air Lawrence, said Lawrence residents consider the smoking ban the norm.
"They only comment when they go outside of the city and have to endure the smoking environment of the uninformed and the unfortunate," she said.
Dr. Howard Rodenberg, state director of health, urged the committee to approve the bill, saying it would save lives and also influence others to quit smoking or not start.
The committee took no action on the bill.
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