No smoking ordinance up for vote in Kennett - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

No smoking ordinance up for vote in Kennett

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KENNETT, MO (KFVS) - Elections are right around the corner and one southeast Missouri town is talking about the upcoming ballot.

It's not a candidate that's creating a stir, but a city ordinance that would ban smoking in public places.

Many businesses in Kennett do not permit smoking in their buildings.

Some restaurants recently changed their policies, while others have been smoke-free for years.

Mr. C's restaurant has been serving the people of Kennett for 55 years, but 15 years ago they said no to smoking indoors.

"Some of our customers, they were kind of upset," said Mr. C's co-owner Linda Pender. "But a lot of them agreed with it, thought it was right. We had a couple that got mad and said they wouldn't be back, but a few months later they came back. Nobody's really had any problems with it."

The possibility of a smoking ban in Kennett has stirred a strong response from many in the community.

"Our customers are very upset with it," said Tobacco Superstore Manager Rita Cole. "They feel like it's taking their privileges away in Kennett. That they're allowed to smoke wherever they want to."

The ban would prohibit smoking inside public places, businesses and private clubs.

It would also be illegal to light up within five feet of outdoor playgrounds and entrances to buildings.

"I think it's a good idea," said Pender. "I'm not a smoker myself. Never have been. And I know a lot of people do. But with the way people are sick and everything now I think it would be a good idea."

"If they want to smoke in their home or on their job and it's ok with their owners or corporations then that's up to them," said Cole. "But we think it's wrong that they're trying to ban smoking in Kennett."

Cole thinks this ban may negatively affect restaurants, but she thinks the tobacco business will thrive.

"I think people are going to smoke regardless. It's an addiction and if they have to just sit in their home and do it they will smoke," Cole said.

The town seems split between pro-and anti-ban votes.

But Cole added, "I believe when it comes down to it the majority of people will be against banning it."

It will be up to voters to decide on April 8.

The mayor says this is the first time a no-smoking ordinance has appeared on the ballot.

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