ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV) – Some anti-smoking groups have been voicing their disagreements over perceived under-handed tactics being used to trick St. Charles voters into supporting a smoking ban.
If the petition, dubbed the “Non-Smoker Protection Act” makes it onto the ballot in November, Ameristar Casino and many of the bars and restaurants on historic Main Street would not be affected at all.
“Obviously they didn’t think the voters would be in favor of it had it not been worded the way it was,” said Sharon Lee, manager of Siteman Cancer Center.
Lee spends her days treating cancer patients and fighting for a smoke-free county. She’s part of the Smoke Free St. Charles County coalition.
She says the petition isn’t a ban, but a step backward.
“It’s been very clouded,” Lee said. “It’s not been truthfully presented to our community.”
With $100, 000 from Ameristar Casinos, the “Committee for Economic Liberty” collected almost 23,000 signatures, spending about $60,000 to hire people to collect them.
“I know some people who signed it thinking they were signing something for a smoke-free initiative,” said Lee.
But former state representative Carl Bearden says the title isn’t misleading. He says its purpose is to ban smoking, but also protect property rights.
Bearden told News 4 it would still put a dent in the number of smoking establishments in the county.
Under the proposed legislation, if businesses do not have a 21-and-up age limit or an enclosed and ventilated smoking area, no smoking will be allowed.
Sharon Lee and other opponents are calling on county leaders to interfere before it goes to the ballot.
The city and county councils continue to be divided on the issue.