Long Beach could become another city in the state telling smokers to light up somewhere else. Alderman Richard Burton will present a smoking ban to the Board of Alderman in Long Beach next week. He says he's riding on the momentum Gulfport has created with its proposed smoking ban to make Long Beach a healthier, smoke free city.
"As the city rebuilds, we're going to have many more restaurants and many more public facilities and places that can be affected by this ban in a positive way," Said Burton.
Alderman Richard Notter says he understands the idea of addressing issues associated with city growth but questions if now is the right time to do so.
"I'm sure at some point in the future it'll become a major issue for Long Beach as the city grows and expands. But, right now, I don't see it as a major issue," Notter said.
Notter says the ban would only affect a handful of Long Beach businesses. He says most of the places it would affect, particularly restaurants, are already smoke-free. Alderman-at-large Allen Holder agrees.
"With as little effect that smoking has on our businesses in general, I think we got a lot of bigger issues in Long Beach to worry about than this right now," said Holder.
But, Burton along with other city leaders says now couldn't be a better time to look at how the ban could impact Long Beach's future.
"I think that the writing is on the wall that non-smoking is going to go nationwide, and I think anything that we can do to work within those perimeters is going to be good for the city," Burton said.
Rob Stinson, the city's Chamber of Commerce president, points to his business, Salute, an Italian restaurant in next door Gulfport. Although, Stinson says it wasn't easy deciding whether or not to make it smoke-free when he opened last year, he says in the end, the move has not hurt his business.
"The people have really responded well to a non-smoking environment," said Stinson.
For now, it remains to be seen if the push to go smoke-free in neighboring Gulfport will impact whether smokers in Long Beach will still be able to light up.