Biloxi to be Smoke-free, In Part

MH900442308Biloxi, Mississippi City Council has been in the middle of a great debate lately. Councilwoman Lucy Denton proposed a complete, widespread ban in all public places in the city. This proposal, of course, has been met with some heated debate. While we have seen a variety of bans being put into place, this is one of those rare, widespread bans that comes up and inspires heated opinions from both sides of the aisle to be shared.

Councilwoman Denton explained that the ordinance would effectively combine other bans in cities such as Gulfport and Jackson, but that it had been edited a bit in order to best fit the city of Biloxi. How so? Casinos remain exempt from the smoking ban, which also includes any restaurants or hotels attached to the casinos.

Backing Councilwoman Denton were representatives of the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association. All three organizations cited the various and severe dangers of secondhand smoke while supporting Councilwoman Denton. But not everyone has been thrilled with the ordinance, with many opponents calling it a violation of personal freedoms, while others claimed it would be bad for local businesses.

The difference between this ordinance and others that have passed with relative ease in other areas is that this one bans smoking in all public places. This means not just indoors and not that it’s okay to smoke as long as you are a certain distance away from doors, windows, and other vents for a public building. This ordinance is a flat out, blanket ban; except for the casinos. Tourist attractions seem to take the longest to apply smoking bans, though many already have strict rules about where you can and cannot smoke inside the establishment already.

Of course, this can be considered a matter of personal freedom. As adults, we have the right to choose to smoke – but we can also choose to quit or to switch to e-cigarettes. However, because the act of smoking a cigarette involves smoke that other people will inhale, where does our freedom stop and theirs begin? Perhaps that is the biggest reason as to why it is easier for people who use e-cigarettes. All you’re exhaling is vapor!

What do you think about widespread, blanket smoking ordinances? A great measure to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke? Or is it still too much, too soon? I can’t help but think the blanket ban might be reflective of Mississippi’s appearance on the Top Ten States Most Addicted to Smoking.

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