More than 65 percent of St. Louis County residents voted in favor of a smoking ban on November 3, paving the way for a similar smoking ban to take effect in St. Louis City.
The bans, set to go into effect on January 2, 2011, ban smoking in restaurants, but casinos are exempt, and certain bars will be granted a special exemption from the law. Bars under 2,000 square feet will be granted a five-year exemption period. This provision was put in place in an attempt to protect small taverns in a fledgling economy.
Earlier this year, St. Louis City leaders flirted with the idea of passing a more stringent smoking ban that would prohibit lighting up in any bar or restaurant within city limits. The Board of Aldermen said this ban would only be considered if the entire county passed its own smoking ban. The board reasoned that it wanted to avoid creating an unfair economic environment for businesses.