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Park Central Square Preps for New Smoking Ban

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Groups of smokers are common sights at Park Central Square in downtown Springfield, but not for much longer.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Groups of smokers are a common sight at Park Central Square in downtown Springfield, but not for much longer.

City Council Monday night passed a ban on smoking in the square.

Cigarette butts are found all around the square and the council is hoping that by enacting this ban that it cleans up the area.

"Because for the folks that are smoking in the square many times they are just throwing their cigarette butts on the ground," Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens said.

The ban originated with complaints from downtown businesses to the city council.

"That customers are having trouble getting in the door because so many people are standing in front of it," Stephens said.

Brandon Knollenberg is a barber at Dapper on the square.

He sees the smoking ban as a positive change.

"Cuts down on a lot of the riffraff and the trash left behind, makes for a cleaner environment, which makes for happier people," he said.

The ban includes the center square and all the sidewalks by the storefronts.

Springfield Police officers will begin issuing $25 citations for smoking in the new Tobacco Free Zone on March 1.

"That will just give basically our department some time to get the education out there that the officers need to understand the ordinance," SPD Representative Lisa Cox said.

And time for those who spend time smoking in the square to learn about new rule.

Brittany Myer's friends are against the ban, but she doesn't mind.

"They're not really happy about it, but you know in my opinion it's just out of respect for others," she said.

Myer said there are other places downtown they can go to smoke.

We asked the mayor if the smoking ban was an effort to clean up the area to bring more development into downtown Springfield.

He said that isn't the main reason, but would be a long term benefit.
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