COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – There was passion on both sides of the issue as Columbus held a conversation about the proposed banning of flavored tobacco within city limits.

Columbus City Council and the community are learning more about the proposal brought to the table by Columbus Public Health. Council members, Columbus Public Health, and small businesses all took part in the conversation Wednesday evening.

“This proposal is not the solution,” one business owner said at the meeting. “Banning menthol cigarettes, flavored dip, and cigars puts us at a huge disadvantage and will benefit the businesses around us.”

“We are trying to end the sales so that kids don’t have access and it’s just not part of our community fabric anymore,” said Amanda Turner with the Coalition to End Tobacco Targeting.

All of the small business owners or managers who spoke at the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, spoke out against the proposed ban.

“This regulation will put us out of business,” one person said. “We will close. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

“If a flavor ban were to pass in Columbus, as a specialty vapor store, this would not just affect my bottom line,” another owner said. “My business would be forced to close.”

Many of the business owners run stores that specialize in flavored tobacco or gas or convenience stores selling tobacco and other products.

“I’m really stressed right now, and a lot of other business owners are also really stressed, and they strongly oppose this ban,” said Abaidullah Ansar, owner of Eckles Market.

Some argue flavored tobacco has helped people quit smoking cigarettes. Many say if passed, they’d lose tobacco and sales from other things to nearby cities and towns.

“A quarter of a mile, that’s all somebody has to drive, that’s what would happen,” said Columbus resident Shayna Wilson.

They also said adults should be able to make their own decisions about the products they use. However, Columbus Public Health and Columbus Councilmember Shayla Favor said it’s a health issue that’s a danger to children and disproportionately affects the Black community.

A few people who spoke up in favor of the proposal included Kristin Dixon, who said she’s been a Columbus City Schools teacher for 10 years.

“Every day, we’re seeing students bring vapes to school, hide vapes, smoke vapes in the classroom while you’re teaching,” she said.

“From the coalition’s perspective, it’s time to focus on public health, on the 800,000 people in Columbus and their health, and not just prioritize a person’s personal profit off of selling poison,” Turner said.

There are more chances for community members to talk about the proposal with city leaders. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9, and more conversations with small businesses like Wednesday’s meeting are set for Nov. 16 and Nov. 30.