Smoking ban good for progessive cities

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, October 9, 2011

Individual rights advocates remainresistant, but the tide toward smoke-free air in public buildingsand restaurants continues to grow.

    This week, Brookhaven aldermen signaled their intent to move towardHomeseekers Paradise becoming a smoke free community. The city hashad a partial smoking ban since 2008, but it allows smoking inbuildings under certain circumstances.

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    What changes will be needed to the current law are not certain, buta panel of aldermen is exploring that. A report is expected at thenext aldermen meeting later this month.

    With the move to a 100 percent smoking ban, Brookhaven will join agrowing list of communities around the state that have enacted theprohibition. As of August, according to the Partnership for aHealthy Mississippi, 41 communities – encompassing almost 20percent of the state’s population – have no-smoking laws.

    Moving to join that list represents a progressive gesture forhealth benefits by the board of aldermen.

    Public sentiment appears to be on the side of smoke-freecommunities. The Partnership’s website cites a Mississippi StateUniversity study indicating that 70 percent of adults thinkrestaurants should be smoke free and 72 percent believe indoor workareas should be.

    There is also a financial incentive in that smoke-free communitiesare eligible for certain grants. Projects funded by those grantscould be used to benefit non-smokers as well as smokers.

            There remain some details tobe worked out, but Brookhaven aldermen are catching the wave forbetter citizen health and well-being.