Gulfport City Council to consider smoking ban

Published 11:54 pm Saturday, December 22, 2007

Officials are considering a local law that would make Gulfport the latest of several Mississippi cities to prohibit smoking in restaurants and other places.

Business owners nervous about the economic aftermath of a proposed citywide ban on smoking will get their first chance to speak out next month at a City Council hearing.

According to an early seven-page draft of the smoking law, the city would outlaw smoking almost everywhere. It would be illegal at places of employment, including employee lounges or any enclosed area.

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The new ordinance, proposed by Councilman Brian Carriere, includes bars, restaurants, taxicabs and private offices. At work, smokers would have to walk at least 20 feet from the building’s entrance.

The law would make it illegal to have a smoke even in some outdoor areas, including covered areas and seating areas of outdoor sports arenas and venues.

Smoking would still be allowed in up to 20 percent of all rooms rented at bed and breakfast facilities and hotels and motels.

The new law would not affect casinos. Carriere was unavailable by phone this week because of the birth of his son and it’s too early to tell how the rest of the City Council feels about the proposed ban on smokes.

Advocates of tougher anti-smoking laws, such as the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, are expected to support Carriere’s push. However, bar and restaurant owners could mount a campaign against the proposal for fear of what the smoke-out could do to their bottom line.

Smoking bans are already in place in several cities, including McComb, Starkville, Hattiesburg, Tupelo, Ridgeland and Oxford.