On Wednesday, a non-smoking ordinance went into effect in Branson prohibiting the practice in many public spaces where it was once allowed. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has reaction from local businesses.
The decision to enact a non-smoking ordinance came about as a result of ongoing discussions centered around many health risks of tobacco smoke for non-smokers. The ordinance cited studies linking health concerns to second-hand smoke, and from a majority of the city’s visitors favoring smoke-free hotels and restaurants.
“This is a broad community conversation that we had last October. The board did approve an ordinance restricting smoking in indoor spaces—enclosed public spaces. And that ordinance is now in effect as of July 1st, 2015,” says Anderson.
Garrett Anderson is Branson’s director of economic development. He explained that e-cigarettes are also regulated the same as regular cigarettes.
Business owners will be responsible for upholding the new ordinance. The maximum fine for violation will be $25.
Anderson says many businesses were already ahead of the curve and had become smoke free before the ordinance was enacted.
Franko Gonzales is a kitchen manager at Lonestar Steakhouse and Saloon just south of the 76 strip. He says the restaurant went to non-smoking five years ago and that it was a fairly smooth transition.
“It didn’t really affect us at all where we saw a dramatic drop in sales or guest count. If anything it helped us grow with our guest sales,” Gonzales shares.
But several restaurants did make the change today with the start of the new ordinance going into effect. Jimmy Gallaher is assistant general manager with Waxy O’Shea’s on the Branson Landing. He says a majority of the tourist traffic was often surprised smoking was still allowed here as many towns and cities across the country had similar ordinances already imposed.
“We don’t think it’s really going to affect us that much. I mean honestly from my perspective I feel there were more people who turned around and left because we did allow smoking inside versus people who turned around and left because we didn’t,” Gallaher explains.
Anderson explains that smoking regulations only apply to public enclosed spaces and that smoking remains unregulated in private residences. Smoking is not allowed in city parks except where designated. Hotels and motels are able to designate up to 20 percent of their rooms for smoking rooms, however Anderson says most hotels have also chosen to go smoke-free of their own choosing.