No smoking push moves to City Board

Published 11:28 am Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A local health advocate’s push to ban smoking on all public facilities reached the City of Vicksburg Tuesday and officials have planned to look into the process.

Local gym owner Linda Fondren and Leslie Horton, director of the Warren County Tobacco Free Coalition, presented a “sample ordinance” to city officials and asked for similar action in Vicksburg.

“This is not about telling people they cannot smoke,” said Fondren, who presented the same ordinance to the Warren County Board of Supervisors last month.

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“It is about protecting children and protecting those who do not desire to smoke. According to statistics 26 percent of people in Warren County smoke,” she said. “Seventy-four percent of the people here do not smoke, therefore, I think the priority should be given for smoke-free environment.”

Fondren was citing statistics published by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The ordinance was designed from other cities that have adopted non-smoking ordinances, including Greenville, Hattiesburg and Gulfport, Fondren said.

It states that smoking is prohibited at public facilities where children are primarily present. That include city-owned buildings, child care centers, public parks, health facilities and schools.

The ordinance excludes restaurants, bars and casinos.

“This is kind of a no-brainer right here,” Mayor Paul Winfield said. “I don’t see a really big uproar. I see it as a progressive move.”

Winfield said the city would need to tailor an ordinance to Vicksburg, which has a policy in place prohibiting smoking inside its city buildings.

Smoking is allowed in designated areas, usually about 20 feet from building entrances.

The move to an ordinance will make it criminal for anyone caught with a cigarette in a place designated as smoke free.

The ordinance says the penalty is a misdemeanor payable with a $100 fine.

The proposed ordinance will have to be brought before the public and voted on by the board.

“When it comes to public facilities, including parks, you can control that with not very many problems,” North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said at the meeting. “Most people will adhere to it.”