Smoking Issue a Hot Button at Levering Home
Hannibal's smoking ordinance ignited a good deal of discussion Tuesday evening. Several Levering Home officials spoke to the city council regarding a complaint that residents are smoking inside the health care facility. Hannibal voters approved a smoking ban in most public places in 2012.
Levering President Rich DeStefane told the council that smoking rooms have been specially designed to keep fumes away from non-smokers. DeStefane says some of their residents have behavioral issues and could pose a danger to the public if allowed outside. At one point, DeStefane told the council, " I don't want blood on my hands." The facility is located on Market Street, just across from Eugene Field School.
City Attorney James Lemon stated that in a sense, Levering is conforming to the "spirit of the law", but not the "letter of the law". One area of concern according to Lemon is the section of the ordinance dealing with employees. The ordinance as passed by voters expressly prohibits exposing employees to smoke. Levering officials countered that employees can observe residents through glass windows outside the smoking rooms.
.Lemon suggested it would be best to redraft the ordinance. One of the exceptions to the rule is less that 20% of a hotel's rooms can be smoking IF they are properly engineered to keep all smoke away from other areas. The council voted to have the City Attorney draft a revised ordinance to be reviewed at the next meeting. Lemon said he would confer with counsel from Levering and come up with a proposal.
Levering's legal counsel also said some of the residents' guardians had written letters of support for a smoking variance. Mayor James Hark gave the OK to submit the letters to the City Attorney for review.