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Since the smoking ban was voted into effect last April, there has been much debate about what that means for residents of Springfield. Those who defend the ordinance say it is a public health issue. Stephen Hall is a spokesperson for One Air Alliance, and also the American Heart Association. He says that a study conducted by the University of Missouri in Columbia looked at the air quality of businesses before and after the ordinance took effect. Hall says the study cites a dramatic drop in indoor air pollution.
“A year after voters approved this ordinance; we are seeing workers go into healthier environments across this community, and that’s something to celebrate. And as we look ahead to the vote on Tuesday, this is the reason for people to turn up at the poles and let their voice be heard. We want them to defend the smoke-free law. We believe that voters knew what they were approving last year when they showed up and the poles. They wanted to protect public health and protect workers in this community,” Hall says.
Many residents feel the ordinance is not about the issue of smoking itself, but about businesses not having the final say over how they chose to run their businesses. Christian Hutson is a local businessman. He says under the old ordinance, business owners had more control than they do now. Hutson says he feels the current ordinance is too strict and has hurt many area businesses.
“If you have a private club, whether it was say the American Legion, the VFW hall, or even a private men’s cigar club downtown, under the old ordinance you were able to decide whether you allowed smoking in your private business or not. Under the current ordinance, you’re not able to decide that. The government decides that for you. There is no leeway whatsoever,” Hutson says.
Hall and Hutson both want voters to understand what their vote will mean. A “no” vote says the voter wants to keep the current smoking ordinance in effect. A “yes” indicates a vote to repeal the ordinance. The poles will be open at 6 a.m. and will close at 7p.m. Tuesday June 5th. You can find links to more information below. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.
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