Aldermen adopt full smoking ban

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The city board has adopted a new ordinancethat bans smoking in all public buildings and businesses.

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    The new ordinance passed unanimously at Tuesday night’s boardmeeting after Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell made a motion toaccept it.

    “This is going to be a good ordinance,” said Ward Two AldermanTerry Bates, who served on the committee to draft the ordinancealong with Maxwell and Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes.

    Maxwell agreed and pointed to some of the benefits to the city.

    “We’re going to be able to apply for some grants we haven’t beenable to,” Maxwell said.

    The ordinance replaces the city’s previous smoking ordinance, whichinstalled only a partial ban. The previous restrictions allowedsmoking in restaurants with separate ventilation sections for thesmoking section.

    The updated ordinance states: “It shall be unlawful for any personto smoke in indoor public places and in places of employment.”

    As used in the ordinance, “public places” does not refer topublicly owned buildings but to “an enclosed area to which thepublic is invited or in which the public is permitted.”

    Therefore, all privately owned businesses fall under the injunctionagainst smoking in public places.

    The injunction also includes a small perimeter around the outsideof public buildings. Smoking is prohibited within 15 feet of thefront door and 10 feet of the back of any buildings where smokinginside would be banned.

    The footage requirements are an increase of 5 feet each from theprevious ordinance.

    “We decided to increase the footage a little bit,” Maxwellsaid.

    The ordinance does allow hotels and motels to designate up to 20percent of all rooms as smoking rooms.

    City Attorney Joe Fernald suggested that a minimum number ofsmoking rooms be provided in addition as an alternative to thepercentage.

    “You’ve got private businesses trying to serve customers, and someof them are smokers,” Fernald said.

    His proposal did not gain any traction among board members.

    The ordinance states that its restrictions do not include privateresidences, except where those residences are used for child care,adult day care, or as a health care facility.

    The text of the revised ordinance was a combination of the city’sprevious ordinance and one passed by the city of Hernando in 2007,Maxwell said.

    “This is based on Hernando’s ordinance, which is one of the fastestgrowing cities in Mississippi,” Maxwell said.

    Maxwell said he plans to take copies of the ordinance to businesseswithin his ward that may be affected to ensure familiarity withit.

    The ordinance provides for fines up to $25 for a person’s firstoffense and no more than $100 for subsequent offenses.

    Businesses violating the ordinance could face up to $100 fines fora first offense and up to $200 fines on subsequent violations.