If you live in Kirkwood and your new year's resolution is to quit smoking, the city is giving you quite an incentive to snuff out that cigarette for good. As of Saturday, you will no longer be allowed to smoke in most public places in Kirkwood.
Starting this weekend you'll start to see "no smoking" signs hanging in most indoor, public places. This comes after November's elections when the people of Kirkwood overwhelmingly approved the smoking ban. Still, not everyone thinks it's the right decision for the city. Some say it should wait until the entire county goes smoke free next year, so as not to drive away potential business.
Ashtrays will be pulled off the tables at Mike Duffy's this weekend. Until now the restaurant and watering hole has had both a smoking and a non-smoking section. The restaurant is afraid sales will slump; that smokers will go elsewhere if they aren't permitted to puff on a cigarette with their beer.
The bar would prefer a smoking ban during eating hours only to give late-night bar business on kareoke and trivia nights a better chance.
"My wife -- she still smokes and she says she's not going anywhere that she can't smoke," Jerry Link says. "I mean, she's really hard core about it!"
But others say the thought of clean air will actually entice them to try new Kirkwood businesses.
"When you're a non-smoker and you're around smoke, when you get home you have to pull your clothes off and wash them because they stink so bad," Dwain Smith says.
"I like it," Eliot Asyre says. "I think there are too many places where smokers and non-smokers aren't divided, so the reality is you sit down to have a nice meal and the smoke is wafting your way. It spoils it."
Asyre says it also makes going out more family-friendly.
"I've got three kids who are 11, 12 and 13 so it also makes it easier when we're going out when we don't have to worry about (smoke)," Asyre says.
But some restaurant owners say they had no say in what's now mandated under their own roofs.
"I think in general it will all be good. I just don't like things shoved down my throat without my opinion," Amigo's Restaurant Owner Roberto Trevino says. "I feel like the owners should have a say, because they put up the money, they put up the house. They should have a big say in how they want to run their business."
Dave Hartweig gave up smoking 40 years ago. Every week he and fellow retired fire fighters, like Jerry Link, get together for lunch. Link, has smoked most of his life. Still, the two share a similar opinion on the smoking ban.
"The government is infringing on too many people's rights, and the majority should rule," Hartweig says. "Even though the majority ruled in Kirkwood, I still think it's wrong."
"I respect the rights of the people who don't smoke, but if they want to go into a smoking establishment, they should know that it's going to be smoking," Link says.
Mike Duffy's is now toying with the idea to put up some kind of tent with heaters outside to accomodate the smoking crowd.
The rest of St. Louis county, where food sales make up no more than a quarter of business sales, will join Kirkwood by going smoke free exactly one year later. Now there are some exceptions -- people in private homes and cars can still smoke, and 20-percent of hotel room and tobacco stores are also exempt.