Tobacco shop owner worries about effect of possible workplace smoking ban in Springfield


SPRINGFIELD — Should people be able to light up in restaurants, bars or the workplace?

That’s the question voters in Springfield will likely decide come April. While supporters say it’s to better our lives, some worry it could threaten their livelihood.

“This is a wall of our pipe tobacco blends,” explained Christian Hutson, owner of the Just for Him tobacco shop.

Hutson points to a wall where there are dozens and dozens of unique tobacco blends. Many of them are customized right here in the store and sold in town and all over the world.

“I think this week we shipped to France, Croatia, Romania, Russia and Australia,” said Hutson.

Hutson and his employees do the specialized blending.

Business as usual at the tobacco shop; though, could soon be a thing of the past if voters approve a measure in April that would ban smoking in the workplace.

“If my employees can’t smoke tobacco on the job, which is what I pay them to do, then how do we develop our products?” asked Hutson.

The group, One Air Alliance, that collected the necessary signatures and delivered them last month to the city clerk to get the question on the ballot says workers are some of the very people they’re protecting.

“With people that have to go work everyday and be around secondhand smoke for 8 hours at a time, you can wash it out of your clothes, but you can’t wash it out of your lungs or heart,” explained Josh Garrett.

The measure would stop smoking in all private clubs and workplaces including bars, restaurants and tobacco shops.

Proponents say it’s a matter of public health.

“We have a right to breath clean air and that is the one thing that we are talking about here,” said Katie Towns-Jeter, Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

But Hutson says his employees and customers– who come in daily to enjoy a stogie or a pipe– are all adults and should have the right to smoke at his shop.

If the measure passes, Hutson says he will fight it because he’s worried about what will happen to his livelihood. “If I can’t smoke in here, it’s not like 24 hours later I’ll be out of business. I’ll slowly wither away.”

Hutson says nearby cities have invited him to move his shop into their towns, but he would prefer to stay in Springfield where his business has been for nearly 22 years– even before he owned the store.


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