Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Resident wants smoking restricted

City Council to be approached about city ban

December 15, 2005

A Lansing resident who has waited tables for nearly four years wants the Lansing City Council to ban smoking in all public places in the city, including bars and restaurants.

Matt Gledhill, who works as a waiter at Applebee's Bar and Grill in Leavenworth, said he would attend tonight's council meeting and talk about the dangers of secondhand smoke during the audience participation portion of the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall, 800 First Terrace. He said he hoped the council would put discussion of a smoking ban on its agenda for an upcoming meeting.

Gledhill called secondhand smoke a public health and employee rights issue.

"Fifty-three thousand people died last year from secondhand smoke," he said. "It's the third-leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S."

The actual number of U.S. deaths annually from secondhand smoke is in dispute - the figure Gledhill quotes is used by the Americans for Nonsmokers Rights; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates the figure around 38,000; a group called The Smokers Club Inc. puts the number at "only 3,000."

Gledhill moved to Lansing with his family in 2000 from California, where smoking has been banned statewide in all "enclosed places of employment," including restaurants and bars, since 1998. He said the idea of a statewide smoking ban appealed to him, but he wants to start on a smaller scale.

"I think for it to work, it has to happen on a countywide level," he said. "But for that to happen, I think all of the cities have to agree first."

Gledhill said he already had talked to elected officials in Lansing, Basehor, Tonganoxie, Linwood, Leavenworth and Easton about enacting a ban. Without each city on board, he said, restaurants in cities with bans could see their customers go down the road to cities without bans.

Since he has to start somewhere, Gledhill is making his first appeal with his hometown, Lansing.

Mayor Kenneth Bernard, who is a smoker, said Tuesday he hadn't been contacted by Gledhill and would reserve judgment on the idea of a ban. But Bernard said he would be glad to hear out Gledhill.

"I'll keep an open mind," Bernard said, noting that although he is a smoker, he banned smoking in an office where he used to work.

Should Lansing ultimately opt for a ban, it would join only a small list of cities in Kansas that restrict smoking in restaurants, bars or other workplaces.

Lisa Benlon, director of governmental services for Kansas with the American Cancer Society, said bans were in place in Abilene, Concordia, Hutchinson, Lawrence, Lyons, Salina and Walton. Bans are scheduled to go into effect in Fairway and Prairie Village after Jan. 1, and bans have been proposed in Johnson County and Manhattan.

Some bans, Benlon said, are more far-reaching than others.

"In our opinion, Lawrence and Fairway : those are the two with the best ordinances," she said.

The Lawrence ordinance bans smoking in "all enclosed facilities within a place of employment, without exception." Fines for violations begin at $100 and increase with each subsequent infraction.

The ban in Lawrence is not without its detractors. A hearing is scheduled this week in Douglas County District Court in a case in which a nightclub owner is seeking an injunction barring enforcement of the ordinance while he contests its constitutionality.

The nightclub owner, Dennis Steffes, told the Lawrence Journal-World his business was off about 40 percent since the ban went into effect in July 2004.

Bernard said he'd be interested to see what restaurant owners in Lansing would think about a smoking ban.

Connie Trusty, owner of Connie's Cafe, 800 N. Main St., said about 75 percent of her business was from smokers and that she'd be firmly against a ban.

"The mayor comes up here and he smokes here," Trusty noted. "It's one of the few places where you can smoke anymore."

She said a smoking ban could hit her bottom line, especially if Lansing were the only city in the area to enact such an ordinance.

"I daresay it would hurt my business. If everybody does it, I don't know what it would do," she said.

Gledhill said he'd spoken with an area manager at Applebee's about a smoking ban throughout Leavenworth County. The director, Gledhill said, was personally in favor of such a ban but said it probably would be bad for business.

"That's upsetting to me," Gledhill said, "because it sounded like he was placing profit over the health and safety of the workers."

At least one Lansing business that serves food, Petro Deli, 601 S. Main St., recently became smoke-free - a fact Trusty attributes to some increase in business at Connie's.

"I do have some of their old customers coming down here now," she said.

She noted Petro Deli's decision was made by its owner, not forced by the government.

"I pay my taxes, my help and my bills," Trusty said, "and it makes me mad somebody wants to tell me what to do with my own business."

Here's tonight's council agenda:

Consent agenda

¢ Consider minutes from the Nov. 23 special meeting.

¢ Consider minutes from the Dec. 1 regular meeting.

New business

¢ Hear a presentation from Leavenworth Area Development.

¢ Conduct a hearing on proposed amendments to the 2005 city budget.

¢ Consider amendments to the 2005 city budget.

¢ Consider renewal of a cereal malt beverage license for Hipsher Inc., doing business as Daniel's Bar-B-Q.

¢ Consider renewal of a cereal malt beverage license for Petro Deli No. 2.

¢ Consider renewal of a cereal malt beverage license for WKRP Management LLC (Pizza Hut).

¢ Consider renewal of a cereal malt beverage license for Charles R. Wood Oil Co. Inc.

¢ Consider codifying ordinances adopted in 2005.

¢ Consider a resolution setting the city's boundaries.

¢ Consider awarding a bid for sanitary sewer relocations related to the Main Street System Enhancement project.

¢ Consider engineering documents for Towne Center Pointe.

¢ Consider the city's snow and ice removal plan.

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