Voters Say It’s Time to End Smoking in Kansas City

Guest Article by Laurel Spencer

In a metro-wide attempt to curb public smoking, Kansas City voters and the North Kansas City Council approved smoking bans that would prohibit smokers from lighting up in restaurants, bars, and other businesses. Aimed to take place in August, the ban is complete with strict restrictions and heavy fines for violators, but what would appear to be a simple measure of public regulation may not be as cut and dry as it seems.

One item of particular interest is the effect that this ban would have on the casinos in the Kansas City area. Currently, the smoking restrictions would not extend to casinos, unless all of the surrounding gaming facilities enact similar laws. So far, downtown Kansas City, KS and Riverside are the only areas not conforming to the voice of the people, and it doesn’t appear that they are likely to change.

Billy Friend, second chief of the tribe that controls the 7th street casino located in downtown Kansas City, said that smoking is a big part of the establishment and the tribe plans to resist any attempts to implement such restrictions on grounds of tribal sovereignty.  However, there is some debate as to whether the 7th street casino would affect the surrounding area as defined by the current smoking bans.  The language of the bans seem to suggest that it does but there are a myriad of reasons why its should not factor into the decision including the fact the 7th street “casino” is actually defined as a bingo parlor.

Although there are potential legal issues concerning the tribal gaming facility, Riverside definitely is fair game in regards to the ban. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they are eager to implement it any time soon either.

The Kansas City Star reports that “Riverside officials also show no sign of a considering a ban anytime soon that might affect the Argosy Casino Hotel and Spa within its borders.”

Efforts should be made to contact downtown Kansas City and Riverside officials and remind them that the voice of the people has already spoken in favor of the ban. It is fitting that those representing the county should respect the wishes of the Kansas City, Kansas voters and the 7-1 majority ruling of approval from the North Kansas City Council by enacting the smoking ban.

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