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Smoking Ordinance Study Presented to Branson Leaders

BRANSON Mo. - The city of Branson could soon be next in line to kick "the habit." Today the Board of Aldermen was presented with a study session by the Taney County Health Department on the economic and health impacts of a potential smoking ordinance.

The city of Branson could soon be the next in line to kick "the habit." Today the Board of Aldermen was presented with a study session by the Taney County Health Department on the economic and health impacts of a potential smoking ordinance.

"It's difficult to change cultural norms, so that's kind of what we're trying to do here, "says Taney County Health Department Health Educator, Kara Miller.

Miller helped present the Tri-Lakes Clear Air Alliance Study, that looked at other cities which have passed ordinances recently, along with smoking surveys from around the Tri-Lakes area. ""The economic impact of having a smoke free law is the opposite of what people think," says Miller.

Among the facts nestled in-between the dangers of second hand smoke, in public places, was a survey that showed 87 percent of visitors says it's important that hotels and restaurants are smoke free.

"I think most smokers police themselves," says Branson Cigar Company owner Betsy Seay. She says in addition to many smokers being consider of others, her business could potentially take a hit from a "one size fits all" smoking ordinance, ""take a look at and situations such as ours that depends on a smoking lounge."

According to the Health Department, nearly 1 in 3 (29.8%) of Taney County Residents smoke. That's higher than the state average of 24%, and even higher than the national average of 19%.

"Smoking really is the single most preventable health care issue that we have," says Ward 3 Branson Aldermen, Rick Davis. "The fact that we are a tourism based community actually makes it more important that we have no smoking polices."

Other Alderman, some of which are former smokers themselves, say it's important not to treat smokers as "second class citizens" if an ordinance is passed in the future. They also want to look at other cities that have recently passed ordinances, in hopes of avoiding the same mistakes.

"We're not opposed to doing it, says Branson Cigar Company Owner Betsy Seay, "We're just saying be careful not to take the little guy into account."


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