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City Council Meeting to Discuss Amendments Goes up in Smoke

The smoking ban that took effect roughly six months ago in Springfield was the topic of discussion at a City Council meeting Tuesday…a very short City Council meeting.  Members gathered to look at several options for amending the ban to help some businesses that say they’re struggling because of it.  As KSMU’s Matthew Barnes reports, they didn’t get very far in their discussion.

About three minutes into the meeting, City Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky announced that as long as she was alive and present, there would be no unanimous vote to amend the voter-approved ordinance.

“ All of the people who are in favor of amendments had an opportunity  to present the same arguments and the same kinds of concerns to the public before this was approved but in fact voters approved a very simple straight forward ordinance . And frankly I don’t have any intentions of imposing my beliefs on the voters. I think if the voters want to change it then these same people that are in favor of the amendments can present another initiative to the public and try to get it changed that way but the voters have spoken and I think that’s the way it needs to be for now,” says Rushefsky.

Jerry Compton is one of the city Councilmen who attended. 

“According to the city charter, when an initiative petition goes before the voters, it takes a unanimous vote of city council to make any changes to it.  And councilwoman Rushefsky said that she would not support any changes and therefore the meeting was ended because there’s probably no point in discussing it if one of the council members will not listen to any proposed changes,” says Compton.

Although many support the smoking ban for the sake of public health, the amendments that were up for discussion primarily focused on private business, according to Councilman Thomas Bieker.  

“Tobacco retail shops, places like Just For Him and the Albatross where the majority of their sales are from tobacco. And they sample cigar tobacco and things like that with their business. So it’s a part of their model and their plan. And Just For Him has been around for decades now. So, a repeal on that where you know you’re an adult walking into a tobacco store and you can handle yourself appropriately. Primary, debate says that these are not public places—these are privately owned businesses. And for government to come in and mandate what a privately owned and held piece of property can, [or] can’t do in the use of a legal substance in a legal manner on that private property…in my opinion, that’s not a public space and that’s one of the primary debates that we looked at actually,” Says Bieker.

There are no future plans yet for another discussion on this issue.  For KSMU News, I’m Matthew Barnes.