PALMER - For the chair of Smoke-Free Palmer, David Cheezem, Proposition Three, which would ban smoking in businesses and public places in Palmer, is a “common sense” initiative.
But others, like Mary Lou Coddington, owner of the Palmer Bar, disagree.
“People have a choice,” said Coddington. “They don’t have to come here to drink, they can go up the street.”
The fight for clean air in Palmer is a hot debate as the city prepares for its October 2 election.
Proposition Three could ban smoking in public places and places of employment. “Well, the proposition gives people the freedom to go in public and not be impacted by smoke,” said Cheezem, owner of Fireside Books in Palmer.
Cheezem said the proposition is about keeping costumers and employees safe.
“What we all want to do is create a level playing field for employers, so that they feel comfortable in a situation where their employees and their staff and their customers aren’t going to be impacted by the dangers of second-hand smoke.”
Coddington disagrees, and said it comes down to our rights as Americans. “That's what its all about. Choice – freedom of choice. That's what America is all about.”
The local bookstore owner, just down the street from several bars which could be impacted if the initiative passes, said that in these tough economic times, most people don’t have unlimited employment options.
“In my business, I just hired some great new people, and I am just thinking to myself what would it be like if I said, well okay, I will give you the job, but you've got to smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day.”
Bartender Maria Sanders is happy with her job and added that she had other choices. “As an employee I don't mind being around the cigarette smoke. I personally – I smoke and I chose to work here. It’s a great work environment. I have a great boss, it’s like a big family here and if it was that big of a problem, I wouldn't be employed here.”
She said her customers don’t mind either.
“Some of them don't smoke at home, they come here have a couple beers and a smoke. It's their environment, where they can just relax, and we all know the effects of smoking but it is our choice.”
Cheezem is confident voters will pass the proposition, despite the effort’s failure last year in the Palmer City Council. For Coddington, she’s hopeful it doesn’t pass.
"I paid a lot of money for this place. I've been here for 27 years, I want to stay here. I was raised in Palmer; I love this place.”