In just about 90 days, smokers in Eau Claire will have to put out their cigarettes for good, at least in public places.
Tuesday night, the city council approved a smoking ban in the city and community reaction is mixed, but the ban is certainly the talk of the town.
"I think it's a very good thing. I have asthma and it bothers me all the time."
"I think it sucks. I think that it should be up to the owners."
Starting in July, smoking will be eliminated in the city of Eau Claire.
"I think it stinks."
"I'm not too devastated. I know I have to quit at some point anyway."
"I think it's awesome because I believe it will help people stop smoking."
On Tuesday night, the city council voted seven to four to approve an ordinance that bans smoking in all public places in the city.
Council members on both sides of the issue were adamant about their opinions and talked about the ordinance for an hour and a half before voting.
Council Vice President Kerry Kincaid says she wished they had more time and voted against the ordinance. She even offered an amendment to the ordinance, that was voted down.
"There were so many questions we should have had more time to discuss. I feel like the timeliness of this ordinance is very poor and we may have ended up with a poor product because of it," Kincaid says.
Council Member Dave Duax cosponsored the ban. He says it's a move that's right for the city.
"You don't know how many people struggle with this and just aren't out there talking about it everyday because they accepted it was the way it was and nothing was going to change; well something has changed and that's the important thing," Duax says.
As for people in the city, reactions are mixed, but emotions are high.
"I think it's nothing but a bunch of people that are very power hungry."
"I think it's just going to be very nice; a lot more pleasant to go out."
"They've taken away a lot of our rights.”
The smoking ban goes into effect July 1. Violators will then face fines between 50 and 500 dollars.
This isn't the end of smoking bans, Eau Claire County Board Chair Bruce Willett tells NewsCenter 13 that Eau Claire County is set to consider a county wide ban next month.
Here's how the city council voted:
In favor of the ordinance:
Dave Duax (cosponsor)
Bob Von Haden
Hal Davis (cosponsor)
Against the ordinance:
Monday night's story:
People packed the seats and even the hallway Monday night at the Eau Claire City Council meeting.
The issue: A citywide smoking ban.
The public hearing on the proposed ban had people talking for three hours. At least 40 people signed up to have their say before the city council votes on a proposed smoking ban.
People against the ban held up signs saying "let us decide.” The crowd often held up those signs and clapped after lots of animated opinions.
The big arguments were losing businesses and losing customers to neighboring towns versus public health and the side affects of second hand smoke. Some non-smokers say the ban would bring their business into local bars and pubs.
"Second hand smoke in any form kills people-- little ones, teenagers, young adults and older people."
"I think it should be left up to the business individual to decide if they want it to be smoking or non-smoking."
"It's a public health issue and I hope in your vote you don't forget the people who are wait staff and janitors."
"I still believe we should allow the patrons to be able to smoke in the bar as their choice--definitely their choice."
If passed, the ordinance would ban smoking in all public places in Eau Claire and certain outdoor locations. Violators would face fines from $50 to $500.
The city council is scheduled to vote on the proposed ban Tuesday night. If approved, it will go into effect July 1.