13/12/2013

Our Voice: Smoking ban needs options

Park Central Square has a rich history, both good and bad, in Springfield.

For generations, the square has been a place to shop, to gather, to meet and greet friends.

While much has changed — Heer’s and other anchor stores are gone; downtown is no longer the city’s major retail region — some things haven’t. The square is still a place to gather and meet friends.

It is also a place where special events are held, from festivals and concerts to yoga classes in the summer.

Now, some want to add the square to the list of city- and park district-owned facilities that prohibit smoking or other tobacco products.

The same things that make the square special make this a unique situation. No other city properties are quite like the square — both city facility and public space.

We have consistently supported public smoking prohibitions — whether in restaurants and bars or park lands — and we believe that Park Central Square would be a better, cleaner and healthier place if smoking were prohibited there, too.

But we also recognize some of the special challenges such a ban could create. LM cigarettes .

Because there are three restaurants along the exterior of the square that have outdoor smoking area permits, as required by the city’s smoking ordinance, those places of business would be exempt from the ban. This is understandable, but seems unfair if other businesses across the street from the square itself cannot allow their customers and employees to smoke out on the sidewalk.

Employees and customers at the state building at the corner of Boonville have traditionally used the covered area of the square as a place to take a break and eat lunch — and to smoke. This would mean those smokers would have to stand along Boonville or the covered walkway to the west of the building, where there are no cigarette receptacles or benches.

Then there are the folks who hang around the square every day, many of the homeless, who are also smokers.

Councilman Craig Hosmer, who sponsored the proposal, is confident that it is a good idea, good for the city and will get sufficient Council support to pass.

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