Cape's Smoke-Free Air Act up for debate Tuesday night

By Christy Millweard - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Is secondhand smoke harmful? That was one of the big questions at Tuesday night's debate over the upcoming vote in Cape Girardeau to either pass or vote down the Smoke-Free Air Act.

Community members met at the Show-Me Center listened to two teams debate the hot topic.

One of the big topics was "choice." People against the ban said a person has a choice on where they go. So they say to just choose a non-smoking establishment.

Those for the ban say a person chooses to smoke, and therefore should be able to go outside to do so.

Another big topic, what affect will this have on local businesses. Don Greenwood, a team member against the ban, said he thinks it will hurt business and force some to close.

Shelly Wood, a member of the team for the ban, said places like the City of Columbia passed the ban, and more than 50 businesses opened after.

Both parties agree the open and closing of a business does not solely fall on a smoking ban, but may play a part, either good or bad.

The term "public place" was thrown around a lot. Those against the ban say a bar or restaurant is private, or privately owned, and those owners should be able to allow people to smoke inside.

Those for the ban, say a bar or restaurant is a public place since members of the public go there. Wood says they should not be forced to handle second hand smoke as a member of the public.

Greenwood says the whole argument, really isn't even an issue of smoking.

"I am not a smoker, I have never been a smoker, I think smoking is a rather vile habit. I play in a number of bands, in clubs around the area, the smoking bothers my eyes, but I don't see this as a smoking problem at all," said Greenwood. "I see this smoking ban as a government regulation."

"I believe business owners should have a right to operate as the way they choose, as long as the way they're operating does not endangering the lives of their employees or their patrons," said Wood.

They also discussed whether or not second hand smoking is harmful to others. Those against the ban say research actually does not prove it is harmful, while those for the ban say hundreds of studies proves it is.

The vote takes place on April 5th for residents of Cape Girardeau.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.