Officials in Stevens Point call a proposed smoking ban a deeply emotional issue on both sides. That decision was in the hands of the city council Monday night.
Last month, the Public Protection Committee voted not to take action on a proposed smoking ban. But residents on both sides of the issue got a second chance to make their opinions heard before the city council.
The anti-tobacco group BreatheFree has been lobbying for this ordinance for the past year. They believe something needs to get down on paper.
"We believe it's important that they do have the city attorney start drafting something," says Carol Weston, coordinator of BreatheFree. "Putting down on paper some specifics that this community would like to see in the ordinance."
But the ordinance could have serious economic consequences. Some restaurant owners that allow smoking say they could lose up to 30-percent of their business if the ban were to go into effect. In these hard economic times, that's a loss they can't afford.
"Everyone in the area knows that we are a smoking restaurant," says Edwin Flatoff, owner of the South Point restaurant in Stevens Point. "We don't need legislation to tell somebody whether they can have smoking or not."
"What we're learning tonight would be more of what our constituents want and what our city as a whole wants," says Jerry Moore of the Stevens Point city council. "That's the opinion we're looking for now."
The 7-4 vote not to take action on the proposed smoking ban means the proposal is dead for now. But because it is such a controversial issue, officials say it could resurface at a later date.