Emporia Kansas legislators have struggled for several years with whether to ban smoking in public places, and now Emporia seems destined for a similar debate locally.
Emporia bar owners and employees are organizing opposition to a proposed ban on smoking in enclosed spaces and businesses. The City Commission plans to have a hearing Monday on the plan, from a group called Clean Air Emporia.
Backers say a ban will protect residents' health and believe most of them support the idea.
Critics question whether the ban is enforceable. They also believe it will hurt businesses such as restaurants and bars.
"It's not just bar owners who will be affected by this," bar owner Sandy Bastin told The Emporia Gazette. "If we lose business, the money issues will affect employees, customers and ultimately the city through lost tax revenue."
Bartender Becky Mishler said people still want to preserve business owners' right to choose whether to allow smoking.
Proposals to impose a statewide ban on smoking on public places have failed to pass the Legislature because of opposition from business owners. But public health advocates are pushing the idea, and supporters have promised to try again next year.