Gautier leaders consider a smoking ban in public areas

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Should smoking in public be banned? That's the question coming up for debate in Gautier soon.

In two weeks, the city will hold a public meeting to talk about possibly banning smoking in the city's public areas.

Ryan Hough is the restaurant manager of Country Gentlemen. He said some of his most loyal customers are smokers, and they've mentioned before they'd be very upset if they could no longer come to their favorite restaurant and have a cigarette.

"There are some die hard smokers," Hough said. "Some people enjoy their cigarettes and really adamant about it and will fight this as hard as they can."

Rita Wirtz and her husband just recently moved back to the coast from Ohio, where smoking in public is prohibited. Both said it was a difficult transition coming back to Mississippi.

"It was kind of a shock to move back here and realize when we went to eat, we had to contend with the smoking again," Wirtz said. "Since we're non-smokers, the smoke bothers us more than it would smokers."

Server Michelle Waller works at Country Gentlemen and smokes. She believes a change in the law could be an opportunity to help people quit. But she also believes the city should consider having designated areas for smokers.

"We do have tables outside. If you could go outside still, like I said have a designated area outside, then maybe that wouldn't chase our customers away."

If the ordinance does pass, some say the adjustment will be worthwhile.

"As people quit, they're not going to want to be around smokers as much. I see it coming as a big thing," Wirtz said.

"It might contribute to people stopping cigarettes because if you can't smoke anywhere, that's the less you smoke. That's more added on to your life," Connie Stewart said.

The meeting to discuss the proposal will be held at Gautier City Hall April 15 at 6pm.

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