Smoking Ban Sparks Debate Among Supporters, Non-Supporters

Published 03/09 2014 10:46PM

Updated 03/10 2014 09:40AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) We are less than one month away until St. Joseph residents will cast their votes on a controversial smoking ban.

On one side, supporters say it is an issue of public health.
On the other, some are concerned with personal freedoms and fear of dying businesses.

Members of the Citizens of Fairness group said they're fighting for fairness.

"I don't smoke, never have smoked, never will smoke, and don't like smoke. But, I do like property rights and the ability to make my own decision," said Scott Tucker, the owner of The Belt Sports Complex.

Tucker is a member of the group.

He, among others who are against a smoking ban hitting St. Joseph, just want equality.

"We want it to be across the board, for everyone, including the riverboat," said Tucker.

"I don't really care whether it's about smoking, or the non-smoking, but it's about everyone," said Tracy Allen, Co-Owner of Buffalo Bar.

If voted on, the ordinance would ban smoking in all public places in St. Joseph, except for the gaming floor of the St. Joseph Frontier Casino, and other limited exceptions.

Tucker thinks that is unfair.

"The reason they don't want to do it, and they threatened to go somewhere else with their boat, is because they're going to lose business. Well, guess what? We're going to lose business the same way. So, why is that a fair assessment," Tucker asked.

Dr. Jane Schwabe, the Chairperson for Citizens of Smoke Free St. Joe, said they mirrored nearby states, like Kansas, when forming the smoking ordinance.

Kansas' state-wide smoking ban also exempts casinos.

"We would love to have an all-inclusive, every single person covered. But, in order to cover the majority, this is where we have to start," said Dr. Schwabe.

Schwabe said the purpose of the ban is to prevent second-hand smoke as much as possible.

"We know that the employees that are around a heavy smoking place, that's equal to smoking two packs of cigarettes for them," she said.

Those who oppose the ban said that reasoning should apply to everyone.

"A fair, and honest outcome that prevails for all," said Allen.

The smoking ordinance will be on ballots April 8.

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