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Ban on hotel smoking will continue in Garden City

Published on -9/5/2013, 3:04 PM

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GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Garden City commissioners have rejected a request to allow smoking in hotel and motel rooms despite a group of hoteliers saying they were losing money because the city's ban, which is more restrictive than the state's.

The group asked commissioners in June to amend the city's clean air ordinance to allow hotels to designate up to 20 percent of their rooms for smoking, which would be the same as allowed by the state, The Garden City Telegram (http://bit.ly/1fBBCd5) reported.

The city adopted restrictions in 2007 that prohibit smoking in restaurants, bars, private clubs and fraternal organizations, education facilities and most other public spaces. The rules were later expanded to make all hotels and motels smoke-free.

The city's ban also goes beyond state law in barring smoking within 50 feet of a public access point of any building. State law prohibits smoking within 10 feet. The city also prohibits smoking in private clubs and fraternal organizations, while state law allows smoking in those buildings; and the city restricts smoking in certain outdoor facilities owned by the school district or community college, and doesn't allow smoking in bleachers or grandstands on public property or athletic fields.

Local hotel operators told commissioners they are losing business to other southwest Kansas communities such as Dodge City, Lakin and Scott City because smokers keep driving when they learn they can't smoke in Garden City hotels.

"All we're asking is just meet the state law," said Kerry Spanier, with the Dusty Trail Inn. "We're losing business because of it. If we're losing people at motels, restaurants are losing it, stores are losing it."

Spanier said people tend to smoke in hotel rooms regardless of the ban, and hotels would be able to better control where that takes place if they're allowed to set aside a portion of rooms for smokers.

"Smokers feel like they have no rights at all, and they get nasty sometimes if you tell them they can't smoke," he said. "They're paying money for that room to go in and relax. Smokers do have a few rights, still."

Most of the commissioners were unmoved.

"If we open one door, we're going to open some more," Commissioner Janet Doll said. "I just think it's going to be a domino effect."

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