By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
HANNIBAL, Mo. — An ordinance that would eliminate smoking in all indoor public places had its first reading before the Hannibal City Council Tuesday night, with a final vote expected May 15.
Hannibal voters in April approved Proposition 1 to ban smoking in public places. Sixth Ward Councilman Richard Draper, who pushed the ballot initiative, also introduced the ordinance Tuesday night.
First Ward Councilman Kevin Knickerbocker, Proposition 1's most vocal opponent on the council, squeezed through a slight amendment to the ordinance that eliminated the first two paragraphs that explained the health problems caused by smoking. Knickerbocker maintained that while the council places intent in ordinances to provide direction for future councils, he said voters approving Proposition 1 was all that was needed.
Draper said the American Cancer Association's legal counsel recommended that the consequences of smoking and second-hand smoke be included to help prevent legal challenges to the ordinance.
"If we didn't, it opens it up to loopholes," he said.
The amendment was approved by a 4-3 vote with Knickerbocker, Second Ward Councilman Mike Dobson, Third Ward Councilman Kevin Lionberger and Fourth Ward Councilman Barry Louderman voting for it. Voting against the amendment were Draper, Mayor Roy Hark and Fifth Ward Councilman Jim Hark.
The ordinance will go into effect on July 1.
Two supporters of the bill spoke to the council, including Pete Kaonohi, a Vietnam War veteran. At the April 17 meeting, a representative of Foreign Wars Post 2446 said the council should exempt private clubs.
"I feel that since the city voters passed the no-smoking ban, we should honor the vote," he said.
Also speaking in support was Stephanie Thomeczek, chairman of Citizens for Smokefree Hannibal.
"The vote of the people was crystal clear," she said. "Any place where people are working should be smoke free, whether it be an office, a restaurant, a bar, a bowling alley or a hall."
Thomeczek said that the ordinance would allow private clubs to allow smoking inside their buildings as long as there are no employees within the premise and that the event was not open to the public.
"A broad membership club loophole like the one requested at the last meeting would create a unlevel playing field, needlessly compromise health and that does not follow the direction given by the public voters in April," she said.
The council also:
• Certified the results from the April 3 election. Sworn in were Lionberger, who beat former Third Ward Councilman Lou Barta, and Knickerbocker ,who ran unopposed. Municipal Judge Fredrich Cruse was also sworn in.
• Overruled the recommendation of city staff to allow the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council to hold a farmer's market at 214 N. Main from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays between May 19 and Oct. 13. Staff recommended denying the farmer's market because the city does not allow outdoor sales in the historic district, but the council overruled the decision after a deciding that the intent of the ordinance was not to prevent nonprofits from holding events as long as they weren't held for seven consecutive days.