By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – Aldermen here made their city the latest in Mississippi to restrict smoking in areas open to the public.
An ordinance, which was approved unanimously Tuesday, goes into effect Dec. 2.
In addition to indoor spaces where the public is invited, the ordinance forbids smoking within 25 feet of building entrances, outdoor seating areas of restaurants, seating areas of sports venues and amphitheaters and any city-owned property.
Exceptions to the ban will be designated sleeping rooms at hotels, private clubs with no employees and private residences except those used for child care, adult day care or health care services.
Business proprietors will be required to post signage of the international no-smoking symbol at each entrance. Businesses can be fined $100 for a first offense, $200 for the second and $500 and revocation of city business licenses for a third. For individuals, a first offense can be fined at $50 and a second or subsequent within a year at $250.
Tuesday night’s meeting was slated as a public hearing for the ordinance, but no one offered comment.
“I was a little surprised that there weren’t any comments, but I think the cause is such a common thing in other towns that most everyone realizes it’s probably the right thing to do. Smokers are pretty respectful about going outside to smoke,” said Alderman-at-Large Johnny Anderson, who proposed the ordinance.
Away from City Hall, several folks were willing to comment.
New Albany resident Al Good carries an oxygen tank with him but said the city should do a better job of enforcing existing ordinances before adding new ones.
“I don’t think we should spend our city money by making so many regulations and then picking the people we want to pick on.”
Angela Roberts was having supper at Huddle House.
“It will affect me, because I do smoke,” she said. “That’s the only reason my mother comes here to eat – so she can sit and smoke and drink her coffee. I guess we’ll have to deal with it. It’s understandable – smoking is a bad habit.”
Holly Dowdy of Ecru also was dining at Huddle House in New Albany.
“The reason I come to New Albany is because I can smoke here,” she said.
New Albany joins about 40 other municipalities in Mississippi that have banned smoking. Among those in Northeast Mississippi are Aberdeen, Amory, Corinth, Ecru, Mantachie, Oxford, Pontotoc, Starkville and Tupelo.