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Columbus City Council Approves Smoking Ban

Starting June 1, smoking will be banned in all Columbus bars and taverns. Despite a city council vote of 4-2 for the ban, some residents say they are not pleased.

Randy Burgmeier is a bartender at one of 12 Columbus taverns or clubs that allow smoking. He says his customers choose to come to his bar because of that. With county bars exempt from a ban, he worries that he could lose his livelihood.

“I don’t believe that government has a right to be in small business, I really don’t,” he says. "I think it should be up to the business owner, our business was fine how it is, and now they’re driving regulations that are going to force us to close down, to shut down I’m really afraid.”

Burgmeier was one of several residents who spoke at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Not everyone spoke against the ban though. Greg Womack moved to Columbus from Chicago about a year ago. He says the smoking ban in Illinois didn’t hurt business that he noticed.

“The bars and clubs still do pretty well there,” he says. “I just wanted to give the bar owners some encouragement that they’re looking at it negatively right now, but at the end of the day, everything will be fine, once everybody gets used to it.”

Mayor Kristen Brown spoke out against the ban. Even though she does not have a vote, she wanted it to be clear that public health was a county matter, and should not be addressed by the city council.

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