SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Smoking brought dozens of people to a public forum on Tuesday night. At issue is whether smoking should be banned in public places -- including restaurants, bars and businesses -- throughout the Queen City.
Voters will decide the ballot initiative on April 5. Before they cast their ballots, both sides presented their arguments.
"Secondhand smoke is a proven health hazard, not just a nuisance," said Dr. David Redfern, who is for the smoking ban.
"The law is not about statistics or reports, it's not about an individual's health or public health, it's about freedom," said Dr. John Lilly, who is against the smoking ban.
Audience members were encouraged to submit written questions for both sides to debate.
Public health, personal liberty and business owners' rights were the prevailing themes.
Those for a ban argued that everyone has the right to breath clean air.
"Without a ban of smoking indoors at these restaurants, my people would be subject to illness and potential death from secondhand smoke," said Tim O'Reilly, who is for the smoking ban.
Those against the ban argued that the law on the books already establishes smoking and non-smoking choices for both employees and customers.
"As a business owner, if you choose to be a smoking or non-smoking establishment you need to accept that there are customers who wont enter your business. It's up to each business to decide where their interests in profits lie," said Jessica Hutson, who is against the smoking ban.