No smoking signs can be seen posted outside some Gautier restaurants and stores, but Tuesday evening the city council could vote to make all public places smoke free.
"I believe that it really should be passed for health reasons," Gautier resident Rico Borrazzo said.
"Each individual has their own rights," resident Jeffery Soder said, "and if you want to smoke, I believe you should not do it in front of others."
The majority of Gautier residents agree: 566 weighed in on an online survey and 49 percent voted 'yes' to passing a smoking ordinance. A public hearing was also held and 11 out of 18 people voted 'yes.'
"One of the most subjective things is going to a restaurant," Rico said. "You want to go sit down, enjoy a meal, and you want others to enjoy the experience you are having. And then someone sits down next to you and starts smoking."
Gautier resident Diana Nelson is a smoker. "Everybody has rights, but a smoker does not have rights," Nelson said.
While Nelson understands banning smoking inside public places, she said it is simply not fair to say where she can smoke outside.
"I have to go outside, then let me choose where outside," Nelson said. "Don't tell me, 'Go over there.' That ain't right. I'm going outside. Give me that right, too. Don't make me drive or walk a mile to smoke a cigarette."
With the majority of residents they've heard from in favor of a smoking ban, Mayor Gordon Gollott believes the city will join more than 90 other communities across the state to pass a smoking ordinance.
"You have people coming from both sides," Gollott said, "but when you look at it as improving the quality of life and changing the perception of the state of Mississippi, it's an opportunity for us to look at that and improve what we have here in our city."
If the city council decides to pass a smoking ordinance, they have two options: Gautier could become 100 percent smoke free, or the city council could make exceptions and allow it in certain public venues.
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