Aldermen considering ban on smoking
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 12:00 AM
An ordinance banning smoking in commercial buildings inside the city limits is under consideration by the Philadelphia Mayor and Board of Aldermen.
The proposed ordinance, which is being drafted by the city attorney, is the result of an earlier meeting with Beverly Knox of the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition.
The proposed ordinance would ban smoking inside buildings and within 15-feet of the front doors.
Aldermen questioned whether they had the right to legislate what people could do in their own buildings.
"So if I'm in my office, in my building by myself, I can't light up a cigarette?" asked Ward 1 Alderman Josh Gamblin.
Mayor James A. Young said, "essentially yes."
A short back-and-forth followed with the board asking a variety of questions.
"Does anyone allow smoking in their buildings right now?" asked Ward 4 Alderman Cecil Nichols. "Will the Blues Café [424 Blues Café]?"
He received a negative response.
Nichols polled aldermen and some members of the audience about whether they smoked and most responded negatively.
The board ended the discussion, directing attorney Robert Thomas to draft the ordinance to be considered at the Nov. 19 meeting.
If approved, the city would be required to advertise the ordinance for a month before it would go into effect.
The effort to make Philadelphia smoke-free has been an ongoing discussion.
Knox appeared before the previous board on multiple occasions seeking to get a similar ordinance dating back to 2010, when she initially asked the city to seek a grant to disperse information about tobacco risks and health concerns to residents.
This proposal was met with many different reactions by the previous aldermen who decided not to seek the grant.
While the city currently does not have a smoke-free ordinance, there are federal and state laws that ban smoking in public buildings such as city hall and the courthouse.
MTFC - a part of the Office of Tobacco Control, a division of the Mississippi State Department of Health - is pushing for ordinances in most all Mississippi cities.
The Office of Tobacco Control has other programs to spread the message of a smoke-free Mississippi.
This includes community and statewide organizations that target specific populations to prevent youth tobacco use and youth programs like Reject All Tobacco (RAT) and Generation Free.