Push For Restaurant Smoking Ban Headed To South MS - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/07/05

Push For Restaurant Smoking Ban Headed To South MS

One city at a time. That's the American Cancer Society's newest strategy to put more restrictions on where smokers can light up.

In the past few years, the state legislature has refused to ban smoking in Mississippi restaurants and bars. Meridian, Tupelo and Greenville are considering such laws. Soon, the smoke-free movement may be heading South.

Bob Haddick doesn't smoke, but he usually doesn't mind being in bars with people who do.

"The basic thing for an establishment to have excellent ventilation and I don't think after that it's a problem that much," said Haddick.

Irish Pub manager Ben Kaufman tries to make all his customers happy.

"I do offer an outdoor beer garden and currently a smoking and a non-smoking section, so I try to accommodate everyone."

The American Cancer society says with second hand smoke killing 35,000 to 40,000 people a year separating the non-smokers from the smokers isn't enough.

"It's been proven that ventilation systems within smoking and non-smoking areas do not work," said spokesperson Dana Luquire. "They do not get all of the toxins out of the air."

The push to snuff out tobacco in restaurant and bars is mostly in towns is other parts of the state but not for long.

"Coalitions are being built in South Mississippi," said Luquire. "Public opinion polls are being taken to see how the public feels about non-smoking in public places and things like that."

Many here believe South Mississippi bar patrons would prefer to sip their beers with a cigarette in hand.

"It's just the fact that some people have to smoke when they drink and some people don't," said Haddick.

Kaufman added that when it comes to his customer "over 50 percent smoke when they drink and a lot of them only smoke when they drink. I really think it would affect the way people look at my business as a whole. Granted, if it's the law, then we have to abide by it."

The American Cancer Society says no formal requests for bans have been made in Coast cities yet, but plans are underway.

by Danielle Thomas

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