By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
VERONA – Verona is the latest Mississippi city to ban smoking in public places after the passage of a no-smoking ordinance by the board of aldermen earlier this week.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to ban smoking as a part of its Healthy Verona initiative.
Smoking will be banned in all enclosed buildings and vehicles owned or operated by the city, all indoor public places, within 25 feet of building entrances and exits and outdoor areas that are more than 50 percent enclosed. It goes into effect May 2.
“I wanted to do this because in the fall we passed the Healthy Verona resolution, mainly for obesity because that causes a lot of health problems, but so does secondhand smoke,” said Alderwoman Margaret Baker. “Everyone has the right not to breathe in secondhand smoke.”
Exceptions to the ordinance allow up to 20 percent of all rooms rented to guests at bed and breakfast facilities, hotels and motels to be designated as smoking rooms.
Private clubs without employees and private residences can allow smoking. Residences that operate as child care or adult care facilities cannot allow smoking.
Baker said the ordinance is a small part of what she hopes the city can do to promote health.
“I’m trying to put together a task force to push healthier initiatives,” she said. “We held a health fair in October and rolled out a plan for residents to lose one pound each month for a year.”
Residents can sign up for the community weight loss initiative and weigh in at the Verona Fire Department.
Baker said she is also looking for volunteers to help with the health initiative. Anyone interested can call (662) 566-1519.
Other Northeast Mississippi municipalities that have gone smoke-free are Tupelo, Corinth, Rienzi, Mantachie, Amory, Aberdeen, Pontotoc, Calhoun City, Ecru, Oxford and Starkville.