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St. Louis County to Consider Smoking Ban

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – A St. Louis County Council member wants to ban smoking in most indoor public spaces.

Councilman Kurt Odenwald's proposed ordinance would prohibit smoking in bars, restaurants, offices and shopping malls.

Odenwald says designated smoking areas are not enough to protect the public from second-hand smoke.

"That smoke doesn't leave the building," Odenwald said. "You may be sitting in the non-smoking section of that restaurant or you may be in the non-smoking area of that building but you're breathing the smoke because it's part of the air that's ventilated and circulated throughout the building."

But Pat Bergauer with the Missouri Restaurant Association says smokers will simply go to businesses outside the county.

"It will very much, very much hurt the small business owner," Bergauer said. "That's the one who is going to pay the highest price here."

She argues the decision to ban smoking should be left up to individual businesses.

Odenwald says second-hand smoke is a public health concern that should be a priority.

If the proposal is approved, it would apply to both unincorporated areas of the county and municipalities. A county committee will consider the ordinance next month.