The city of Sedalia is beginning to see the benefits of a smoking ordinance that went into effect last September that banned all public smoking.
The ordinance had been discussed and debated for years before finally going to a vote in city council and was met with plenty of opposition from local bar and restaurant owners who saw the ordinance as a threat to business. The law has seen success however, as studies show a dramatic improvement in air quality in those areas directly affected by the ordinance.
Clean Air Sedalia chair Jeanean Sieving said their biggest concern has always been public health.
“That’s what we were working for. This is about health of our citizens in Sedalia,” Sieving said.
While local business owners feared the law would chase away customers, Sieving said there was no proof given that the ordinance had any negative effects on restaurants or bars.
“If the bar owners had been able to prove that it had hurt their businesses I think the city council maybe would have addressed it differently or looked at the situation but because they were just making noise…It was more just a push back that they didn’t like the situation,” Sieving said.
Clean Air Sedalia is not the only one concerned with protecting its citizens. Reid Swearingen, an MU student and Sedalia native, says he is happy his hometown is starting to put more of an emphasis on public health, especially after losing his grandmother to cancer.
“I would hate to see somebody affected the way that my family was affected off someone who gets second hand smoke involuntarily,” Swearingen said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, second hand smoke can increase ones chances for cancer, stroke, heart disease, lung disease, and more.
Sieving says Sedalia’s choice to go smoke-free could be the tide that encourages legislators to consider a smoke-free Missouri.
“Less than 25 percent of our people in Missouri smoke and so if they stop and look at their constituency, probably 75 percent plus would like our state to be smoke free,” she said.
City council members said the ordinance is likely here to stay.