Lucedale smoking ban defeated
By ROYCE ARMSTRONG
LUCEDALE – Efforts to pass a smoking ban in Lucedale public places ended in a disappointing defeat for Mayor Dayton Whites on Tuesday night.
“I have the best board (of aldermen) that there is,” Whites told the board after it failed to take action on a smoking ban ordinance. “And I am not going to get crosswise of the board. But, as a physician…, we should be doing this for the children. They are my heart.”
The ordinance, which would have banned smoking in all work places and public places within city limits, was first proposed during the September board meeting. Representatives of the American Cancer Society, including Dennis Warren, the executive director of the American Cancer Society for the Gulf Coast Region, spoke to the board in favor of the ordinance during that meeting.
“My sense is that it will not be that big a deal,” Whites said during the September meeting. “We sent a survey about this to everyone in the city with a business license. We only got four back who did not support a smoking ban. This really will not affect that many people.
“There is not a restaurant in town where you can smoke. It will speak well of the city that we care enough about our citizens to take this stand.”
It turned out to be a bigger deal than Whites expected.
The issue was continued until the November meeting when Aldermen Lloyd Welford and Payton Dudley questioned the need for the ordinance if it was not going to affect many people. They also wondered how the city was going to enforce it.
Whites again made his appeal as a physician acting on behalf of children. Opposition to the proposed ordinance caused Whites to table the issue once again.
Alderman Jessie Underwood questioned the survey with only four negative responses during a work session before the meeting Tuesday night. He said a number of citizens had spoken with him on the issue and many were business people opposed to the ordinance. Underwood said most businesses were now smoke-free and employees went outdoors to smoke. The proposed ordinance would ban that as well.
Underwood argued that with most businesses already smoke-free, business people were opposed to the additional restrictions. He said the ordinance would create a problem where no problem currently exists.
“This is not about business rights,” Warren told the aldermen. “This is about health issues and the health issues associated with secondhand smoke. I would hope that city leaders will take the next step to protect its citizens against cancer.”
Warren also told the aldermen that Petal had just adopted a similar ordinance.
Lucedale aldermen were not swayed. A motion to adopt the ordinance died for lack of a second during Tuesday night’s regular meeting.