An ordinance similar to the one adopted by the Washington City Council will serve as a starting point for St. Clair as it starts working toward possibly adopting some kind of public smoking ban within the city limits.
The board of aldermen agreed to study Washington’s ordinance and subsequent amendment adopted about a year ago and directed City Attorney Kurt Voss to draft a law with similar language for St. Clair.
The action came during the board’s Monday meeting.
“I’d like you to take this information with you and review it,” Mayor Ron Blum told the aldermen during their meeting. “If you want to discuss it tonight, that’s fine. We just need some direction from the board as which way you want to go.”
Also included was information about other communities that have gone smoke-free.
The no-smoking ordinance has been a board topic for three consecutive meetings. Blum first suggested the aldermen consider adopting one in early April.
At that time, he said he had been approached by several individuals asking that the city adopt some kind of no-smoking law.
“I’ve been asked to make a presentation to the board,” the mayor said last month.
Blum also suggested that when the aldermen are satisfied with a draft ordinance, whatever it ends up entailing, the city first conduct a public hearing before any law is approved.
“Our thoughts were to include a public hearing to give people a chance to speak out,” the mayor said. “We want to get as much information as possible before we make a final decision.”
Blum also said that he believes a public hearing is the best way to go as far as involving city residents. The measure also could be placed on a local ballot.
“But, we haven’t had high voter turnout,” Blum said. “Hardly anyone has come out to vote in the last several elections.”
Ward 1 Alderman Zach Fuchs agreed.
“We need to have the public be a part of this,” he said.
Blum said the process will be for Voss to draft an ordinance for the aldermen to review. When the board is happy with the language, it will schedule a public hearing.
After public comment is gathered, the aldermen will consider any changes and then will vote to approve or disapprove.
“I say let’s move forward,” Ward 1 Alderman Nathan Tate said.
The other aldermen agreed.
The plan is for Voss to have a draft ordinance ready by the May 19 meeting.
During previous board meetings, aldermen have not taken a position on the smoking issue. Tate has said that he also has been approached by residents and business owners about it, however.
Tate also suggested last month the discussion wait until new Ward 2 Alderman Greg Talleur had been seated so he could be involved in the process from the beginning.
Talleur took the oath of office on April 21 and took his seat as a member of the board during the meeting.
Currently, the city of Washington has a no-smoking policy in place. It was approved in January 2013 and took effect about a year ago. It prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars, businesses, workplaces and other public places in that city.
The measure unanimously was approved by city council members.
The introduction states that it is an ordinance “adopting provisions to prohibit smoking in indoor workplaces and public places, hereby known as the Washington Smoke-Free Air Act of 2013.”
An amendment to the ordinance was passed a few weeks later. It amended language centering on what an enclosed area is and what a smoking shelter means.