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Smoking Ban Ordinance To Go Before Springfield Voters

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KSMU - Ozarks Public Radio
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http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/smokingban_7918.mp3

The group, Clean Air Springfield, collected nearly 1,200 signatures last June, asking the Springfield city council to ban smoking in all public, indoor facilities. KSMU’s Brandon Goodwin reports.

On Monday night, city council tabled the issue, likely passing the decision on to voters. Dan Wichmer is the city attorney for Springfield.

“By tabeling it and sending the question to the voters, they have expressed their desire that the voters pass on the issue. So the issue is dead as far as council is concerned. Therefore the voters will pass on it in April,” he said.

The ordinance would ban smoking in all public, indoor areas. The only exception would be private residences and hotels with fewer than 25% of rooms designated as smoking rooms.

Carrie Reynolds is a spokeswoman for Clean Air Springfield.

“We look forward to the opportunity to put this before the people and have the community be able to make a decision on what sort of exposure they want to have to second hand smoke,” she said.

Christian Hutson owns Just for Him, a tobacco shop in the Fremont Center shopping plaza. If the ordinance passes, it means his customers will no longer be able to smoke inside his shop.

“There are numerous smoking bans, both in Missouri and in the United States, but in almost every case there are reasonable exemptions and one of those exemptions, almost all the time, are tobacco shops. This smoking ban, as it is written, all three thousand words of it, would be one of the strictest smoking bans in the United States,” he said.

Clear Air Springfield suggests tobacco shops located in strip malls, like Just for Him, can be harmful to neighboring businesses.

“What they’re doing inside the walls of their buildings is not only impacting them, but it’s also impacting the air quality of the other stores and shops and restaurants surrounding them within the facilities,” she said.

But Hutson insists his shop is isolated.

“We are literally separated from our neighbors. We have our own ventilation system, so we’re not connected to them in any way. To me this is a very simple property rights issue verses government intrusion,” he said.

On April fifth, voters will likely have the final say.

For KSMU News, I’m Brandon Goodwin.