The Branson Board of Aldermen unanimously passed the second reading of a new smoking ban at its meeting on Tuesday night in what was described as a quick and controversy-free meeting that had at least one cigar shop owned pleased with the outcome.
The ban had been in the works since April, when the city council began drafting the ordinance after hearing from members of the Taney County Health Department, representatives from the Tri-Lakes Clean Air Alliance and tobacco cessation specialist Jim Brawner. At the time the board said it wanted to be careful in how it crafted its ban so as to avoid the mistakes made by other cities.
A revised proposal was released in late August after a period of pubic comment, with several changes made including reducing the distance that smokers would be required to be from doors and windows to businesses, allowing smoking on golf courses and in certain outdoor eating and drinking venues where they weren’t being served by employees, as well as including electronic cigarettes in the ban.
Tuesday’s ordinance was passed with further changes according to OzarksFirst.com, including dropping the no-smoking zone around buildings from 25 feet all the way down to six feet, with the downtown area having just a four foot limit. Additionally, smoking will still be allowed in cigar and e-cigarette stores, provided that 70% of the store’s sales are from tobacco products. That move sat well with Betsy Seay of Branson Cigar Company, who praised the board’s willingness to listen to residents and make appropriate changes.
Parks will become partially smoke-free, with designated areas to be created to allow smokers a place to light up. Hotel and motel rooms also get a partial exemption, as up to 20% of a property’s rooms can be designated as smoking rooms.
Finally, the fines have also been drastically lowered, as what started out as language that provided for fines up to $500 has been changed to just $25 per violation.
The new rules will go into effect in July 2015. The full text of the ordinance can be found here.
Branson is home to just under 11,000 residents and is located in the southwestern corner of the state, just over 200 miles southeast of Kansas City.