Keep smoke-free establishments smoke free

I’ve always enjoyed the food at Mom’s Kitchen on Santa Fe. It’s located just west of the old Dillon’s Grocery Store building and just like the name implies, Mom’s Kitchen serves quality down-home, the kind-of-food-mom-made dishes that recall the great memories of growing up in small-town Olathe.

It began in the late ’60s as a small fast-food hamburger joint called Koo-Koo where you could buy a bag of bite-sized burgers (they call them sliders now) for less than a dollar. I was in high school and the Koo-Koo was one of a couple of places that stayed open late (the other was Waids, which is now the Old 56 Highway Restaurant) where we could go to get something to eat after a long night of ‘Cruisin’ the Fe.’

The Koo-Koo was especially a favorite because if the right girls were working the late shift we could talk them into giving us a free bag of cheeseburgers.

It was owned and operated by Lloyd McCarley, who was then a new Olathean entrepreneur. He not only built Olathe’s first exclusive membership restaurant, The Bramblebush, but also went on to expand the Koo-Koo and turn it into Mom’s Kitchen. In fact, those familiar with Mom’s may or may not realize that the restaurant’s west dining area actually is the original Koo-Koo complete with an original door in the southwest corner.

It has changed ownership since then, but the food always has remained constant — and good.

Despite having great food and despite having a “non-smoking” section, I seldom ate there over the years because the deadly, lingering, second-hand smoke from cigarettes in the “smoking” section always drifted, as it did in any other restaurant, throughout the building. And the stench of cigarette smoke became absorbed in my clothes.

I hated that smell.

But when Olathe, and the state of Kansas, established smoking bans in public places, such as restaurants, I was thrilled and now I often eat at Mom’s that is free of cigarette smoke-filled rooms. I walk out, stomach satisfied and without smelling like a cigarette.

It’s great.

But now, legislators in Topeka are considering a bill that would allow people to again to smoke in bars because, proponents claim, it is hypocritical of the state to allow smoking in the state-run casino in Kansas City. Well, that’s exactly why I don’t go to the casino — even to eat. No matter what filtering systems are in place, that deadly, second-hand smoke finds its way into every part of the building, including the restaurant.

Elected officials who support this are idiots and should be locked in cigarette smoke-filled rooms for days if they vote in favor of this kind of legislation. Because once there is a crack in the smoke-ban law, it won’t be long before restaurants cry foul and we’ll be back to the days when people walk into a restaurant and the greeter asks, “Smoking or non-smoking?”

They will argue that I have a choice to go or not to go into a business that allows smoking.

That’s true. And I won’t.

But I will argue that smokers have the same choice now: They can smoke in their cars, outside, on their boat, on their motorcycle, and in their homes where they can endanger the lives of their children with deadly second-hand smoke. They have the choice to kill themselves and the ones they love.

But if they smoke in a restaurant or bar, then they are endangering my life and the life of my children and grandchildren, and that’s a choice I, nor anyone, should not have to make.

Seems to me, if this stupid piece of legislation makes it to Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk, and if he signs it into law, it’s just another example that Kansas isn’t a progressive state — it’s dangerously regressive.

If you agree, then do something about it: Contact your representative and senator. And if they don’t listen — vote them out.

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