Aldermen move closer to city smoking ban

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brookhaven is one step closer to going completely smoke-free inmost restaurants after aldermen held a work session Monday morningto discuss proposed ordinances regarding smoking and fireworks.

An ordinance regarding smoking has been in the works for severalmonths. On Monday, Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell offered somerevisions to the proposal that City Attorney Joe Fernald, who wasnot present, has been preparing for board consideration.

The current proposal would allow restaurants voluntarily to optout of the smoking ban, thereby allowing smoking in theirestablishments. Maxwell said he had other ideas.

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“I’m saying let’s not let them,” Maxwell said.

Since Monday’s gathering was not an official meeting, aldermenwere unable to take any formal actions regarding the smokingordinance. Board members’ discussions, though, moved them closer toan overall ban on smoking in restaurants, although they couldretain smoking areas under certain conditions.

Aldermen discussed restaurants that have smoking areas that areenclosed and have separate ventilation systems. Under Maxwell’sproposal, restaurants that currently have or want smoking areaswould have to close them off and see to it the heating and air wereon separate systems.

“They’d have to remodel a little bit,” Maxwell said. “They’dhave to do some remodeling to comply.”

Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates said he doesn’t believe banningsmoking altogether will actually affect businesses negatively.

“Some people feel like if you don’t have smoking you’re going torun people away, but I don’t feel that way,” Bates said. “If you’vegotta go back to church and you’ve been somewhere where there’ssmoking, your clothes are all messed up.”

Ward Three Alderwoman Mary Wilson said people will eatregardless of whether they can smoke in a restaurant or not.

“If we’re going to say no smoking, we should say no smoking,period,” she said. “There ain’t too many people who won’t gosomewhere because of smoking. People are going to eat.”

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes pointed out that servers willbe subjected to the second-hand smoke, whether they like it or not,if there is a smoking section in a restaurant. She also said,however, that consideration should be given to businesses who havegone out of their way to provide separate smoking facilities, suchas the Grid Iron Grill on Union Street Extension.

“I’d like to see it go completely non-smoking,” she said. “ButI’m inclined to wonder how much we can legislate a person’s desireto smoke.”

The complete smoking ban would also cover outdoor sports arenas,and there is already an across-the board smoking ban on governmentbuildings.

Aldermen also carried on talks about a fireworks ordinance, aslast year’s annexation brought in a few areas where it waspreviously legal to set up fireworks stands. Owners of fireworksbusinesses have asked the city to allow them to continue to sell inthose places.

Several options were discussed, such as allowing sales withinthe city, allowing sales and shooting in restricted areas based onacreage and other criteria, or a city-wide ban with specialexceptions in cases like the Juvenile Rehabilitation Center thatsets off fireworks every New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of Julyfireworks at Easthaven Baptist Church.

Aldermen agreed to come to a conclusion on the fireworksordinance at the next regular board meeting, which is May 6.