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The ban on smoking in Springfield's public facilities is far from decided, as August 25th's Springfield City Council meeting demonstrated. Jeremy Elwood has this report.
Springfield City Council met Monday August 25th, and the hot topic on the
agenda was the proposed total ban on smoking in Springfield's public
facilities, including restaurants, bingo halls and bowling alleys.
Jack Horton, owner of Uncle Bentley's bar in Springfield, says the bill would
put him out of business. He says about 50% of his patrons smoke, and the ban
would drive away the majority of his customers.
He also says he knows that the council doesn't intend to put people out of
business, but that would be the result of the ban.
One of the major tasks facing the council in last night's meeting was to clear
up some of the misconceptions about an issue that has become convoluted and
confusing to many residents.
Three bills were presented at the meeting. One would allow an exemption to the
ban for any restaurant that could prove its revenue between July and September
of 2003 dropped 20% compared to the same time in 2002 : the so-called
The second bill was the total smoking ban, proposed by Mayor Tom Carlson at
the last council meeting two weeks ago. The third bill would put the total ban
to a public vote in the presidential election of November 2004.
Ron Leone is the executive vice president of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers
and Convenience Store Association, which represents many of the gas stations
and convenience stores in the state. He says the issue shouldn't even be in
front of the council. It should, instead, be decided by free-market forces.
Restaurants aren't the only businesses affected by the ban. Bob Chancellor
spoke at the meeting representing the Sertoma Clubs of Springfield. He says
bingo halls, like the one run by the Sertoma Clubs, would be put out of
business for one reason: 90% of bingo players smoke while they play.
All these arguments have made for a difficult decision for the city council :
one that it might make as soon as its next meeting on September 15th. Jeremy Elwood, KSMU News..