Smoke-free means lively street scene

Metropolitan Kansas City’s outdoor hospitality is warmer than ever and that’s not because of more burning cigarettes. For the past 10 years, area communities have been approving smoke-free ordinances for indoor public places and workplaces. The benefits of lower smoking rates and healthier communities are obvious, but there’s also been an unexpected benefit.

A lively street scene evolved in Kansas City after more restaurant, bar and businesses opened up outdoor entertainment areas. It was all perfectly legal. Many of the local ordinances provided a provision for outdoor areas for the smaller number of patrons who did smoke. Street side tables, rooftop dining, patio entertainment, fire pits and restaurant garage doors opening to the great outdoors quickly emerged.

Yet more than smokers moved outdoors where cigarette smoke could be more easily dispersed. Patrons not only enjoyed the indoor smoke-free dining, entertainment and workspaces, but they also moved outdoors, thus creating street scenes. People congregated to celebrate the Royals and Sporting KC championships, Big 12 Basketball, community parades and celebrations and just great people-watching.

Going smoke-free has brought the metropolitan residents even closer together!

Ten years ago in Kansas City when you walked into a Kansas City restaurant and bar area, it was normal to breathe in carcinogen-filled smoke that coated the walls, seats, tables and your lungs. Today there is a new normal, and it’s the expectation that these same places will now be smoke-free.

That expectation has been spreading. Today many local companies, school districts and organizations have expanded their indoor smoke-free policies to include their entire campus, which includes outdoors. Many municipalities have approved smoke-free policies for their parks. Who knows? The demand for outdoor smoke-free entertainment might spread to all areas of hospitality creating another surprising benefit of a smoke-free Kansas City.

This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.

A Healthy 10, Tobacco

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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at


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