OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - In Ocean Springs, a grassroots effort to ban smoking in bars, restaurants, and possibly other establishments is taking shape. Several members of the group organizing this effort are healthcare workers, who say they want this to happen for the public health.
But, owner of Mosaic Bar and Restaurant in downtown Ocean Springs, Arturo Barajas, says he's not a supporter of the movement to ban smoking inside his city's establishments.
"I believe it should be a choice of the business owner, just like it's the choice of a consumer to go in or not," Barajas said. "We serve hookah, even though it has no tobacco, but it is a form of smoking."
He said people enjoy smoking tobacco on his courtyard as well, and he doesn't want to drive his customers away.
"Some ordinances are so strict, they prohibit people from smoking near doors, which would affect our business," Barajas said.
But a group of community leaders and health care professionals believe a smoking ban inside bars and restaurants is a step in the right direction.
"There's nothing worse than someone lighting up when you're trying to enjoy a meal," Felts said.
According to the CDC, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. And, it can cause heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, which is why nurse practitioner KC Arnold fully supports the ban.
"If I had a restaurant that served food and allowed smoking in the area where I was eating my meal, I would not go to that restaurant whatsoever," Arnold said.
The CDC also says secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer.
Laurie Johnson with Smoke-Free Ocean Springs says, right now her group is engaging business owners, community leaders and the public, before trying to get a smoking ban passed.