Branson Hosts Public Forum on Smoking Ordinance

BRANSON, MO (KOLR) - The city of Branson held a public forum Thursday night on a potential smoking ordinance that will soon go before the Board of Aldermen.

Both sides of the controversial issue were in attendance, more than 200 in all. In addition to talking with Branson city leaders one on one, those in attendance also got their first look at the proposed ordinance.

The draft would ban smoking in public places like restaurants, parks, taxis and within 20 feet of doorways. The exception would be businesses whose sales rely heavily on smoking, like cigar shops.

The ban would also include electronic cigarettes, a wrinkle that is different from the recent ordinance passed in Springfield.

Alderman Rick Davis, says multiple city surveys shows that the overwhelming majority of visitors and residents support a smoking ordinance.

He says the "ban" would promote the health of the citizens and the health of the economy.

"The action of this ordinance is to set public policy, and it’s a statement that we stand for the principals of clean air, of healthy breathing, and that's a very compatible with good tourism," says Davis.

Those opposed to the potential ordinance say they are concerned that the aldermen have already made up their minds on what the final ordinance will look like.

"I think they're overreaching just a little, with the outdoor public areas," say Betsy Seay, owner of Branson Cigar Company. "I don't know that everyone understands what that's going to encompass. Any outdoor public area is going to include the Branson Landing, Tanger Mall, golf courses, any where that the public is invited."

The proposed ban requires that no more than 25 percent of a public area, outdoors, is designated as a "smoking area."

Alderman Rick Davis says he doesn't see enforcement of the ban as an issue, because he says most smokers police themselves. He also says any fines from citations would be decided on by a judge.

Davis says he expects the ordinance to pass in October, and be implemented across the community over the following 60 days.

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