Across the nation, city, county and state governments are imposing smoking restrictions of one kind or another. Many business owners also are making choices, with some going smoke-free, some offering designated smoking areas and others allowing smoking.
Breathe Easy Cape Girardeau is a group that hopes to raise awareness about the issues of public smoking. Its website, capebreatheeasy.com, includes a petition advocating smoke-free public places and workplaces.
Smoking bans are not new to Cape Girardeau. A 1991 ordinance banned smoking in grocery stores. In 1992, a Missouri law required smoking and nonsmoking areas to be separated. Both hospitals ban smoking. Schools are smoke-free. But many businesses say they want to continue to offer a smoking area for their customers. They are concerned that a total smoking ban in the city would mean fewer customers. And they don't want the government to tell them how to run their businesses.
At the heart of the debate over smoking in public places is the health impact. Medical studies indicate both smoking and breathing secondhand smoke can have serious health consequences.
Determining the public's sentiment about the smoking issue and providing information is one goal of the Breathe Easy coalition.