Booneville eyes tobacco-free eateries

BOONEVILLE – Booneville appears headed toward a ban of tobacco use in restaurants.
The Board of Aldermen voted 3-2 Tuesday in favor of “the banning of all tobacco use in restaurants and businesses that sell food merchandise.”
The decision came two months after the board defeated a move to ban smoking in all public places.
Voting this week for the limited ban were Wilda Pounds, David Bolen and Harold Eaton. Voting against it were Jeff Williams and Mark McCoy.
Pounds and Bolen also had supported the wider ban, which was modeled after ordinances in Tupelo and Corinth. Eaton, Williams and McCoy had opposed it.
Tuesday’s vote, said City Clerk LaVaile Barkley, doesn’t mean an immediate change but simply begins the process of changing the ordinance.
The ban will not take effect until after a formal ordinance is drafted and published, and a public hearing is held.
While a smokeless environment might be considered beneficial by some, restaurant owners and employees have their concerns.
“Most of our customers that come in smoke,” Huddle House employee Balarie Nunn said Friday night. “I’ve got six tables right now and they’re all at the smoking section.”
She said a smoking ban would be detrimental for the restaurant, going so far as to say it would probably close within a year if smoking was banned.
She added that the customers have been vocal about their opposition to a ban.
“They’re not very happy with it,” Nunn said.
The employees also aren’t thrilled with the proposed ban, she said. Of the 20 employees, she said, 17 are smokers.
Carlie Kollath contributed to this story.

NEMS Daily Journal