City asks for no smoking rules on voluntary basis

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 18, 2007

Even a resolution for Brookhaven businesses to voluntarily maketheir establishments no smoking areas was too much for Ward SixAlderman John E. “Buddy” Allen.

The voluntary resolution surfaced during an impromptu discussionof a possible ordinance to ban smoking in public buildings atTuesday night’s Brookhaven Board of Aldermen meeting. Following aheated debate, the motion for voluntary no smoking compliance wasapproved in a 5-2 vote.

The resolution met with great disapproval from Allen, who feltno smoking rules could potentially lead to a situation similar toProhibition.

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“What you’re trying to do is legislate human rights,” he said.”You’re going to wind up with a jail full of people who smoked acigarette.”

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell, who raised the possibility of ano smoking ordinance at an earlier meeting, said he did not foreseeanyone going to jail for violating the ordinance. He said, though,a “minor” fine could be in order.

“This is not something the city needs to make money on,” saidMaxwell, who also mentioned citizens’ concerns about their healthand the impact of smoking on it.

Maxwell had started last night’s discussion by asking fellowboard members to review copies of no smoking ordinances passed inHattiesburg, Tupelo, Oxford, and Starkville. He indicated the boardcould discuss an ordinance for Brookhaven at a future meeting.

Mentioning complaints about recent citations issued inHattiesburg, Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner offered a motion forthe board to ask businesses to enact the no smoking policy on avoluntary basis.

“I know in Flora they asked people to voluntarily do it and itmet with a lot of success,” Bumgarner said. “We might want to dothat to start with to see where the problem areas are.”

Allen, who said he would be against the resolution even if hewasn’t a smoker, was quick to point out that he has voted againstevery beer permit request that has come before the board. He alsobelieved there was a contradiction between selling cigarettes inthe city and asking people not to smoke in the city limits.

“I’m going to stand right here on public TV and I guarantee youI will tell the citizens of Brookhaven, ‘Don’t buy cigarettes inthe city of Brookhaven. Go out in the county to do it,'” said Allenduring the televised meeting.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron pointed out that the stateLegislature is currently working on a statewide smoking ban.

“Why don’t we wait and see what’s going to happen before we makea decision?” he asked. “We’re not taking away anybody’scigarettes.”

Bumgarner’s motion passed 5-2, with Allen and Ward Two AldermanTerry Bates voting against it.

Mayor Bob Massengill said the motion to ask public places tovoluntarily put a smoking ban into effect was not something plannedfor last night’s meeting. He said the board resolution was simply asuggestion to see how receptive the city is to the idea.

“We’re going to be reasonable if and when an ordinance ispassed, but at this time that isn’t even an issue,” the mayor saidafter the meeting. “We just asked that people do it on a voluntarybasis.”