Aldermen move toward full smoking ban

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Brookhaven aldermen have voted unanimouslyto implement a full smoke-free ordinance, replacing the city’scurrent partial smoking ban.

    A full smoking ban would affect all privately owned restaurants andbusinesses. Aldermen emphasized that private residences would notbe affected and that dramatic differences to the current ordinancewould not be required.

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    “We are just about there with our current ordinance,” said WardFive Alderman D.W. Maxwell.

    Maxwell has been a vocal proponent of the full smoking ban.

    The city’s current ordinance allows smoking in restaurants withseparate ventilation systems. Aldermen indicate only oneestablishment in the city would be affected by the removal of thisexception.

    The city’s current ordinance was adopted in 2008.

    The mayor appointed a committee to identify what changes must bemade to the current ordinance and report on those changes at theOct. 18 meeting. It is unclear whether the city will formally voteto adopt a new ordinance at that time.

    Maxwell, Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes and Ward Two AldermanTerry Bates will comprise the committee, with Maxwell chairing.

    Aldermen cited financial incentives as a key reason to support afull smoke-free ban.

    Estes said she sits on the health committee of the MississippiMunicipal League and she sees that Brookhaven is hampered in accessto certain grants because of its current ordinance.

    “I see these grants other cities are getting with some ease and wecannot apply because we aren’t 100 percent,” Estes said.

    Estes said grants for walking and bike paths could be available tothe city with the implementation of a full ban.

    Estes made the motion for a full smoke-free ordinance. Maxwelloffered the second.

    Lori Carter, a representative from the Mississippi Tobacco FreeCoalition, appeared before the board to discuss 100 percentsmoke-free ordinances and grants available to cities that haveadopted such bans.

    Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron inquired as to whether businessesthat currently operate smoking sections could be allowed under agrandfather clause.

    Carter said grandfather clauses are not allowed to be consideredfully smoke free and to qualify for grants.

    Forty-one Mississippi cities have implemented full smoking bans,Carter said, with 12 or 13 having used a model ordinance developedby the Tobacco Free Coalition. She presented a copy of this modelordinance before the board.

    Aldermen briefly discussed whether to adopt the model ordinance oralter the currently existing one, but adoption of the model seemsunlikely.

    Aldermen express concerns with the model ordinance, with Ward Six’sDavid Phillips pointing out specific sticking points.

    “This thing has much heavier fines than our ordinance,” Phillipssaid, speaking of the model.

    City board members asked Police Chief Pap Henderson if violationsof the current ordinance have been a problem. Henderson said he wasnot aware of a problem and that businesses seemed to do a good jobof policing themselves with regards to the smoking ordinance.