PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — Pascagoula will go smoke free in late July.
The city council approved a comprehensive smoking ban Tuesday that applies to all restaurants, bars, stores, motel/hotel lobbies, common areas of buildings and indoor workplaces. The ordinance takes effect in 30 days.
Councilman Joe Abston, who brought up the idea of a smoking ordinance at the request of his constituents, said the ordinance is "probably not the most perfect thing in the world" but moved to approve it.
"I think we've beat this horse enough," he said.
The measure passed, but Councilmen Frank Corder and Harold Tillman voted against it.
"I haven't supported this from the get-go," Corder said. "I think smoking bans are an infringement on personal choice. Business owners should be able to cater to their clientele on their private property.
"I don't like smoke, but I like personal freedom more," he said.
The ordinance specifically bans smoking in: aquariums, galleries, libraries, museums, professional offices, banks, laundromats, indoor shopping malls, retail stores, restrooms, public lobbies and waiting rooms, sports arenas, hotels, motels, bars, elevators, enclosed stairwells, theaters, public transportation, parking garages, jails, polling places and bingo, convention, educational, health care and childcare facilities.
Smoking is also banned with 20 feet of entrances to those facilities, but it is not generally banned on sidewalks.
Exceptions to the ban include private residences except those being used for a child care, adult day care or health care facility, retail tobacco stores and private clubs that are not open to the general public.
Smoking may also still be permitted in outdoor areas of restaurants so long as such the area constitutes no more than 25 percent of the outdoor seating capacity and is clearly marked with signs.
Seventy Mississippi communities have comprehensive smoking bans in indoor places open to the public, according to Mississippi Tobacco Data, a workgroup that provides surveillance and evaluation services for the Mississippi Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program.
Partial smoke-free ordinances, which exempt bars, have passed in 12 other Mississippi communities, including Gulfport.