Monday, January 31, 2011
Businesses in Jefferson City will be smoke-free starting Monday.
As the Capital City prepares for the ordinance that was passed by voters in November, another local town reflects on the nearly two months since that town’s ordinance went into effect.
Bill Johnson, city administrator for the city of Fulton, said no complaints have been brought before the city since the smoking ban took effect Dec. 4.
Like Fulton’s ordinance, Jefferson City’s ordinance is 100 percent complaint-driven, said Nathan Nickolaus, city attorney.
“Action can and will only be taken if there is a complaint,” Nickolaus said.
There has been a nationwide shift in entire towns and cities becoming smoke-free. Like many of those, the Jefferson City ordinance prohibits smoking 10 feet from the entrance or exit to business.
Nickolaus outlined some of the ordinance’s ins and outs,
Smoking in vehicles
The two cities’ ordinances share some similarities. Johnson and Nickolaus said their cities’ ordinances apply to all enclosed public vehicles.
But there are some differences even in this one circumstance.
In Fulton, Johnson said, a person in a private vehicle could be ticketed if they were working while smoking in the car and someone issued a complaint.
Nickolaus said his interpretation of the Jefferson City ordinance is that it only applies in vehicles if it is a business vehicle with more than one person in it.
Where smoking is allowed
Stores and businesses that sell tobacco as one of their revenue makers are exempt. Smoking is allowed there.
Smoking is allowed outdoors at festivals and other events as long as smokers do not partake in business with anyone, Nickolaus said.
“You cannot smoke in service lines. If you are waiting in line for a movie or to get a soda at an outdoor event. You cannot smoke,” he cautioned. “A good rule is if an employee is working there, then it is smoke-free.”
Electronic cigarettes, which contain no smoke or tobacco, are allowed to be used in any building, since they are not noted in the ordinance and contain no tobacco.
“The first thing a person should do if they see a violation is report it to the manager on duty at the establishment,” he said. “If that does not work, they can file a complaint with the city.”
To file a complaint yourself, go online to www.jeffcitymo.org or call City Hall at 634-6410. If the owner or manager cannot get the violator to comply, Nickolaus said, they are to call 911 and the police will escort the smoker from the premises.
Both the Fulton and Jefferson City ordinances state that violators will be issued a summons or ticket to appear in municipal court, where they will face a fine. Fines vary between businesses and individuals, and increase with frequency of violation.
Fulton groups recently banded together to try to petition for the removal of the ordinance, but they did not gain enough signatures.
While Nickolaus said he knows there are some unhappy people, he does not expect any problems or to see a big influx of violations.
Johnson stressed that there has not been a single summons issued because of the implementation of the new ordinance in Fulton.
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