Topeka The city of Lawrence started the public smoking ban movement in Kansas, but a proposed statewide ban is stricter than Lawrence’s ordinance.
House Bill 2221, approved by the Senate on Tuesday, would prohibit smoking in enclosed public places, including near so-called access points to those places.
But what is an access point?
According to the bill, that means the area within a 10-foot radius of any doorway, open window, or air intake leading into a building.
That would seem to prohibit some smoking close to bars, restaurants and maybe some of their patios.
And what, under the bill, is considered an “enclosed area” where smoking would be prohibited?
Basically, a room that has a floor, ceiling and walls is considered an enclosed area. It is not considered enclosed if the rooms or areas are permanently open to the elements and weather.
Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, who has supported the statewide smoking ban, said if the bill became law, some Lawrence businesses would have adjustments to make.
“The adjustments are going to have to be very individual depending on how a business handles outside smoking,” she said.
The proposed statewide ban could require many downtown sidewalk dining areas to become smoke-free because they could not meet the requirement of being at least 10 feet away from the entrance of an establishment.
That change would happen at the same time that city commissioners have approved new rules that give downtown bars more ability to create sidewalk seating areas to accommodate smokers.
Mayor Mike Dever said he may suggest that the city undertake some lobbying efforts in Topeka to persuade lawmakers to remove the outdoor portion of the ban.
“I think we have done a pretty good job of accommodating public health and the interest of businesses,” Dever said. “I would like to see that continue.”
Lawrence’s smoking ban has been in effect since 2004 and was upheld by the Kansas Supreme Court.
The proposed statewide ban was approved by the Senate 25-15 after an approximately two-hour debate that was at times contentious. It will now be considered in the House, where Republican leaders have voiced opposition to the bill.
House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, however, said a more limited smoking ban may be possible.
“There are talks about it, I think there’s even talking about are there circumstances where a compromise could be reached,” O’Neal said.
He mentioned Senate Bill 81 as “floating out there.” That bill includes numerous exemptions to a smoking ban, which would allow smoking in designated enclosed areas of bars, clubs and restaurants. But an attempt to pass that bill as an amendment Tuesday in the Senate failed.