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Business Owners React to Springfield Smoking Ban

Cigarette Ash Tray

With Springfield voters approving a ban on smoking in public places, smokers will no longer be able to light up inside their favorite bars. KSMU’s Adam Hammons spoke with two Springfield business owners to get their reaction to the ban.

The measure that Springfield voters approved on Tuesday prohibits smoking in any enclosed business or private club. Smoking is allowed outside of the building if the person is at least five feet from a window or door. Some opponents of the smoking ban had argued that restaurants and bars where smoking was allowed would lose business. However Tom Muetzel, owner of Finnegan’s Wake in downtown Springfield, is not worried about losing customers. “As long as it’s a blanket situation where the law extends to all businesses, I really don’t think that people are going to stop coming out because they can’t smoke.”Muetzel also says the ban could have a positive impact on his employees.“I think that in the long-term, something that it is going to help us with is going to be productivity out of our staff. Because let’s face it, when you’re in an environment with a lot of cigarette smoke, it’s harder for people to recover from just a simple common cold during the winter.”Other bar owners, like Ray Hassen owner of Ray’s Lounge, are less optimistic. Hassen did not want the ban to pass--He says people who don't like cigarette smoke don't have to go to bars where smoking's allowed.“Restaurants, I can see that. I’ll go along with the restaurants, but bars, I’m kind of skeptical about that.”Hassen also says certain business should be exempted from the ban. As for his business, Hassen doesn’t know how it will be affected.“I’m just going to have to wait and see. If everybody cooperates and I don’t get any tickets then I’ll stay in business. But if I start getting tickets then I’m going to sell out.” If a business is found to violate the ban, a $100 to $500 fine could be assessed to the owner or manager.The person caught smoking inside a public place could face a $50 fine.Facilities that are exempt from the smoking ban include private homes that are not used as a child care or health care facility, up to 25 percent of motel or hotel rooms, and places of employment that are located outdoors. The ban will take effect in 60 days which is early June.For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.