January 31, 2005 – Posted at 6:31 p.m. CST
POPLAR BLUFF – Region 8 smokers say they have a right to smoke, and non-smokers argue they have a right to breath smoke-free air, and both are drawing the line on where to light up.
“You smoke wherever you want. If you don't smoke, move. You've got your rights, I've got mine,” said smoker Tim Rackared, “I don't come in your area at a restaurant, you shouldn't complain about me. Sit somewhere else.”
It's something that's lighting a fire under both sides...smoking in Poplar Bluff. Some folks are for it, and some are against it.
“Whenever I go into some place and eat, I don't want to be all surrounded by smokers and smoke and stuff, so I'm all for it,” said Travis Hanger, who supports the smoking ban petition.
Chris Brandt is part of a group called Citizens for Non-Smokers’ Rights. He’s been circulating a petition to stop smoking in Poplar Bluff.
“We're trying to stop smoking in all indoor work places, where 80% of gross income does not come from liquor, so bars would be able to have it. You've got to expect smoking in bars,” said Brandt.
In response, Jerry Buhler started his own petition for smoking.
“I don't want to infringe upon their rights, but we don't feel that they should infringe on ours,” said Buhler, “We wanted to get out and let the public hear back how the smokers feel, as well as the non smokers.”
If the no smoking petition is successful in Poplar Bluff, it wouldn't be the first city to have such a policy; already Missouri towns Arnold and Springfield have their own bans.
“We certainly have Chamber of Commerce members who feel like smoking should be banned and we have a lot of restaurant owners who feel that that will hurt their businesses and don't want it banned,” said Scott Faugh of the Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce, “It's one of those things with a difficult call and you can really see the pros and cons on both sides.”
Both sides say they're the side to sign with. “If a business owner chooses for his establishment to be non smoking, then that's fine, but if they want to have smoking and non smoking privileges in their facility, then we want it to be left that way,” said Buhler.
“Its just banning smoking in indoor work places and workers rights and to protect everybody else from inhaling secondhand smoke,” said Brandt.