Old Town Cape Board votes to oppose proposed smoking ban

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Election day is one month away and the smoking issue in Cape Girardeau is beginning to heat up.

At their regular meeting on Thursday, the Old Town Cape Board of Directors voted to oppose the proposed smoking ban ordinance over concern for rights of individual business owners.

"It wasn't the idea that they were opposed to the smoking ban, it was that the particular ordinance was too restrictive when it came to business rights," said Marla Mills-Executive Director of Old Town Cape.

On Tuesday, the Board of Directors of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce voted also to oppose the proposed smoking ban.

The group, Citizens for a Smoke-Free Cape issued the following statement regarding Old Town Cape's position.

"Smoke-Free Cape is extremely disappointed that the Board of Directors of Old Town Cape declined to support a measure that would protect thousands of employees and patrons from the known hazards of secondhand smoke. Fortunately, this decision will ultimately be up to the voters of Cape Girardeau on April 5. Laws ensure public health. Businesses abide by a variety of local health and safety laws - for sanitation, food handling and storage, etc. - and few business owners would argue against their rationale. Smoke-free laws serve a dual purpose as they improve public health and expand the right to breathe smoke-free air to everyone. Residents, tourists and families with children in Cape Girardeau should be able to visit downtown and not be exposed to the carcinogens in secondhand smoke. Furthermore, the hard working people who serve our food and drinks shouldn't be forced to choose between their health or a paycheck. Cape Girardeau is a vibrant and growing community with an eye to the future. That said, it's disheartening that the board of Old Town Cape in this instance would take a position counter to that. Smoke-free bars and restaurants have become the norm in our country, not the exception. The common sense ballot proposal simply asks smokers to step outside for the health of everyone."

The group opposed to the ban, Stand Up Cape, is mobilizing and is putting "Vote No" signs up across town.

The Smoke-Free group expects to start putting up signs by next week.

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