Columbia — Mona Ajans’ heavy-smoking father died of heart failure in his 60s. One of her brothers in Germany died of a massive heart attack two years ago after smoking most of his life.
Her brother refused to visit her in Columbia because of the 9-hour flight in which smoking wasn’t allowed.
And 20 years ago, her husband stepped in and shredded a carton of cigarettes she had hidden in order to keep her from starting down the same path.
“You lose your freedom when you are addicted,” Ajans said.
It’s easy to see why Ajans came out to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Columbia’s smoking ban on Wednesday, which was hosted at The Blue Note by the Campus-Community Alliance for Smoke-Free Environments and the Smoke-Free Air for Everyone.
The celebration was meant to act as a show of thanks to the City Council for passing the ban and gather people together to show their support, said Dean Anderson, the project coordinator for the alliance.
Linda Green said she is relieved to not have to worry about the health of her son, who is a musician working at bars and restaurants. Another attendee, Michael Wilson, said he quit smoking 27 years ago and feels he can enjoy his food better at restaurants with the smoking ban in place.
However, there are some people who aren’t in such a celebratory mood.
Boone Liberty Coalition chairman Greg Rennier issued a statement Wednesday that the group feels it is inappropriate to mark the anniversary of the smoking ban.
“What they are celebrating are the property rights taken by the government,” said John Schultz, a liberty coalition member.
He said the ban has caused some restaurant and bar closings, job losses and decreased sales tax revenues in the city. He said the smoking ban is a “one-size-fits-all policy” and that a majority of restaurants and bars were already smoke-free.
Kevin Everett, an alliance member and MU professor, disagreed.
Everett said he found through his own research that smoking bans in other cities have reduced 80 percent of contaminants in the air from second-hand smoke.
“The right to breathe clean air is a fundamental right of all,” Everett said. “It is premature to evaluate that (economic impact) in Columbia. Studies I read encourage us to wait at least a year to see what the economic impact has been.”