Hannibal living smoke-free

A city-wide smoking ban took effect Sunday in Hannibal.

Joe Noonan use to have a smoking-section in his Ole Planter's Restaurant, but now the whole place is smoke-free.

"I have a lot of tourists so they come from states that have no smoking so they're kind of surprised that we actually still do have a smoking section, or did," Joe Noonan said.

A city-wide smoking ban took effect Sunday after 56 percent of voters voted in favor of the ban on the April 3 ballot.

The new law bans smoking in all indoor public places and in city-owned vehicles and some Hannibal restaurant owners say the ban is better for business.

"The smoking ban makes our business a little easier," Noonan said. "When people walk in the door I don't have to say 'smoking or non-smoking' I just seat them."

And the ban makes it easier on Noonan's tourist customers too, who may have thought twice about eating at the Ole Planter's Restaurant if smoking was allowed.

"We enjoy eating where there is no smoke and we've gone into some places where half was smoking and half non-smoking and you can still smell the smoke and everything so yes I think it would have discouraged us," Bobby Morris, a Hannibal tourist from Arkansas said.

But not everyone is in favor of a non-smoking atmosphere. The Hannibal City Council passed the smoking-ban ordinance with a 4-3 split vote in May.

"There are smokers that oppose it because they think they should be able to smoke where ever they want to because it's their right," John Bogue, owner of the Mark Twain Dinette said. "Businesses oppose it because they think it's their choice, their privilege. They don't like the idea of somebody else telling them what they can and can't do with their own property."

Bogue understands why some business owners are opposed to the new smoking ban but he still favors it. Bogue made the dinette smoke-free last October.

"We found it very beneficial, a big plus for us and I'm not aware of losing any business and we've gained a lot of group family business because we are non-smoking," Bogue said.

And Noonan hopes to see the same results now that the smoking-ban has made seating run more smoothly.

"It makes how I deal with the customer a lot faster and it makes it more easier to get along," Noonan said.