GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - A potential smoking ban in Gautier is getting mixed reviews from residents and business owners. The city received a $5,000 grant to study whether to make the area smoke-free. The first public meeting on this issue was held Tuesday night.
The debate kicked off with program director Kellie Lamb of the Mississippi Tobacco Free Collation of Jackson County telling the crowd how a smoke-free policy could help save lives.
"Second hand smoke is classified as a human known carcinogen, which means it is cancer causing and this has been put out by the EPA. If you are in a smoking [section] in an indoor area eating, or indoors somewhere, and you are in there for two hours not smoking, it is like you have smoked four cigarettes yourself. So it does affect those around you," said Lamb.
Some people at the meeting disagreed and were furious with Lamb's comments.
"She is talking about cancer. People get cancer, but people get cancer that don't smoke, too," one resident said.
Some said it's not the government's job to dictate where and when people can light up.
"Smokers have rights, too," a resident said.
"I don't think we need to have any smoking ordinance in Gautier. If a business wants to have smoking, a business should have smoking," another resident said.
Others at the meeting said they favor a ban, and wore stickers to support a smoke free environment.
"My concern is people who smoke inside hotels; we don't allow it on our property," a Gautier business owner said.
"I think it is an aggravation to people who breathe fresh air. I think this city needs to be progressive instead of regressive and take a step forward in moving this along for the benefits of the citizens," a resident in favor of a smoking ban said.
Mayor Gordon Gollott said more discussion and research on becoming smoke-free will have to take place before any actions are taken.
"No decisions made tonight. Depending on the amount of input we get and review then we will go forward from there. It is not set in stone. We will be just looking at it to see again what the citizens want," Gollott said.