I've posted before my thoughts on banning smoking in bars. As a general rule, I think that government should allow the businesses to either allow or disallow smoking in their private business at their discretion. And as a rule, I think people completely underestimate their ability as consumers to affect the change they want. If people who say they want non-smoking laws would spend their money in non-smoking restaurants and bars, there would be many more non-smoking restaurants and bars....and supply and demand would give us more non-smoking places.
Instead, people want the government to take care of them.
However, I can see the argument that we should ban smoking for the good of the employees at these bars and restaurants. I get the luxury of working in a smoke-free environment. Unfortunately, these workers don't have this same luxury.
I still don't understand why our first step is to ban smoking in these places instead of pushing for better ventilation systems. While these are expensive, at least the affected places would have options. This would completely help with a solution on whether or not we restrict smoking in Casinos (which isn't currently something that is being considered. I think it's completely unfair in some ways to make different legislation for bars and restaurants and then not enforce it on bars...however, it would absolutely kill the casinos in KC to have a smoking ban as other casinos in the KC area are in smoking-friendly communities).
Given the health of the employees, and the need to keep the casinos open in KCMO, I can, begrudgingly say that maybe we can justify banning smoking in restaurants (I think bars that make something like 75% of their profits off of liquor, not food, should still be able to allow smoking).
So let's come up with a viable solution so these restaurants may find a "win" in this law.
Non-smoking ordinances will almost instantly create a demand for more, and better, outside dining options where people will be allowed to smoke at their table. Kansas City, Mo's current laws on allowing sidewalk seating make it completely cost-prohibitive for most restaurants to create this environment. Current ordinance (Sec. 64-164) has a ton of restrictions on sidewalk seating...and a hefty $250 annual fee for using the sidewalk (that was paid for by the busines).
Maybe lightning up the restrictions on sidewalk seating would be a win for everyone. Smokers would have a place to hang out outside their favorite restaurant and smoke. Restaurants would benefit by being more accessible to smokers -- and get additional seating space during the spring, summer and fall months. All of us benefit when KC can have a more vibrant street-life with outside seating that would put us in the same urban atmosphere as more sidewalk-friendly places like Denver and Montreal.
Could it be a win for everyone? Possibly. The least we should do is look at it if we're going to start hurting how local restaurant owners run their businesses.