Bill Could Allow Smoking In Kansas Bars

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February 9, 2012

A house bill recently presented in Topeka could change a law that bans smoking in most Kansas restaurants and bars. The bill would amend the Clean Air Act and allow smoking inside bars that serve and employ people 21 and older.

Building a patio cost Shamrock Lounge owner David Stough a pretty penny.

“All the improvements and everything we've done you know, it's like $80,000 now,” Stough said.

He spent the money and time build the outdoor extension for one reason:

"To have a place for smokers to be since they couldn't be inside any more,” Stough said.

Stough says he doesn't miss the days when dense clouds of smoke filled his bar, but if state legislators amend the Clean Air Act, he says he'll have no choice but to allow customers to light up inside again.

“If everybody started smoking again I would have to have smoking here too because I couldn't stay in business without,” Stough said.

Some bar owners want the smoking ban over turned, Judy Lee says her business suffered when it first passed. She says the decision to allow smoking inside bars, should be up to the owners.

“I think everybody should have the right to choose and if they're over 21 and they want to come in and smoke then they should be able to do it without the state telling us we can't,” Lee said.

Now that it looks like there's a chance the outdoor smoking area, might not be the only place people can smoke at his bar; David Stough says he just wishes lawmakers would make a decision and stick with it.

“We did it, we accommodated it, we've gotten all used to it, and now were going to change it back? Doesn't make any sense,” Stough said.

If the bill passes, bar owners who want to allow smoking would be required to post large, visible signs outside all their entrances that tell patrons only people 21 and older are allowed inside. They would also have to post signs with information for the Kansas Tobacco Quitline by all the entrances.

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