The council could vote on the proposed referendum as early as tonight, allowing the issue to go before voters in November.
Council member Barbara Fraser
tells the Post-Dispatch this morning
: "I think a ban would be great for the county, and the timing is good. For some time now, I have been hearing from many
municipalities, and particularly from my constituents, that they want
the county to take the bull by the horns on this issue."
Yesterday Fraser had the county counselor draw up a proposed ordinance similar to the one Clayton officials passed last week
that prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants and 80 percent of hotel rooms. Under the legislation, businesses may allow customers to smoke on outdoor patios.
The county is facing pressure from St. Louis City
and suburbs such as Kirkwood
Wildwood, which are considering smoking bans but fear their business
owners may lose customers if the entire region fails to go smoke free.
In 2006, the St. Louis County Council narrowly rejected (4-3) a bill
that would have banned indoor smoking at bars and restaurants. St.
Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley
helped defeat that bill and it looks like he will once more do what he can to defeat Fraser's proposal.
Yesterday Dooley's spokesman Mac Scott told the Post-Dispatch
that Dooley only supports a smoking ban if it's a statewide prohibition.
But first the County Council must pass a proposal that would allow residents a voice in the matter.