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(St. Louis) (AP) – The growing number of Missouri communities banning smoking in public places could face stiff financial penalties under a proposal from a state lawmaker.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Kathie Conway of St. Charles County would require cities and counties to turn over to local school districts the property and sales tax revenue they get from businesses affected by tobacco restrictions.

Conway told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she is seeking to protect the rights of the owners of bars, restaurants and other businesses to decide for themselves whether to allow smoking.

The bill introduced April 2 is opposed by the Missouri Municipal League and anti-smoking groups. Stan Cowan of Tobacco-Free Missouri says the bill seeks to intimidate cities and counties considering smoke-free ordinances.

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