(Springfield, MO) -- Springfield voters have decided not to overturn the city's smoking ban.
With 46 of 46 precincts reporting, 64% of voters say "no" to repealing the ban, or 12, 390 votes. "Yes" votes were 7,046, or 36% of the votes.
One Air Alliance, which rallied against the repeal, celebrated at Houlihan's in north Springfield Tuesday night just after the polls closed.
Members of Live Free Springfield (bottom right), who were pushing for the repeal, met at McSalty's on E. Battlefield. Their push to repeal the smoking ban started as soon as the measure passed last year. Opponents of the ban say it's hurting businesses and restricting business rights.
Live Free Springfield got the repeal on the ballot through the city's initiative petition process. Opponents say the ordinance was too restrictive. However, City Council passed some grandfather exemptions recently. Still, Live Free Springfield is working to repeal all the rules.
"We're acting as a voice for the community," said Esther Myers Tuesday evening. "We made the effort to spread the truth, to help spread information to the community about the negative impacts of the smoking ban. We worked really diligently over the past year and considering the resources that we had I think we really did a great job."
On the other side, a partnership of health organizations invested in radio and web ads, as well as having information delivered to homes. One Air Alliance argued this is about public health and the protection of workers.Greene County Clerk Richard Struckhoff reported voter turnout at 17.92 percent. That's within his earlier estimates of 15-20 percent -- and slightly higher than the 15.6 percent turnout for the smoking ban vote in April 2011.
In that election, voters approved the ban 53 to 47 percent. There was a difference of about 1,500 votes.
Struckhoff says the June 5, 2012 special election cost the City of Springfield about $90,000.
Because the controversial issue had been confusing to some, the city had recently put signs out around town to help explain the difference between voting "yes" or "no" on the repeal.
A "no" vote kept the current ban in place, including Council amendments passed May 7, 2012, that exempt existing Springfield tobacco shops, cigar bars and private clubs. Bingo halls are also exempt under certain circumstances, and electronic cigarettes and theatrical performances no longer are covered by the ban.
A "yes" vote would've repealed the current smoking ban, which is the Springfield Smokefree Air Act of 2011 -- passed by voters last June -- as well as its amended version from
That would've reverted back to the previous smoking regulations, which would allow smoking in restaurants if liquor is 50 percent of a business's profits or if liquor sales total $200,000 or more a year. Restaurants that sell liquor would've also been able to allow smoking in a separately ventilated area.Some city workers were concerned that confusion could cause some votes to cross over.
"It's confusing to a lot of voters because it's a repeal of a ban," says City Manager Greg Burris. "If you want to go back to the way it was before the ban, you vote yes. If not, you vote no. That's confusing, so we have an education campaign explaining to people how they should vote depending on what they want to achieve."