A motion to adopt a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance passed when the mayor broke a 2-2 tie during last Tuesday night’s meeting of the Philadelphia Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

If aldermen tweak the document they passed March 5, — which the mayor has indicated is so — another vote will have to be taken, according to City Attorney Robert Thomas.

A similar motion failed to pass last year on a 3-2 vote and was later tabled. A voted also failed in 2013.

 Last week, Alderman-at-Large Leroy Clemons brought it up toward the end of the meeting, noting that it had been tabled and never revisited. 

He then made a motion which was seconded by Ward 4 Alderman Cassie Henson. There was a vote. Alderman Ronnie Jenkins was not present and it ended in a 2-2 tie with aldermen Joe Tullos and Jim Fulton voting “no.”

Mayor James Young broke the tie.

“It’s law,” Mayor Young said. “What we have is a model ordinance (created by the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition). It is an ordinance prohibiting tobacco smoking in the workplace and in public places. It has been approved. We will finalize it and send out a 30-day notice to local businesses. Then it will go into law.”

Young said the reactions he has heard have gone both ways.

“Some agree, some disagree,” Young said. “Some think the government is overreaching. Many think they should have smoke-free areas when they are working and doing business. It goes both ways.

“It is a known fact of what harm second-hand smoke does. It is true and factual and we are trying to decrease all harm to the public. We didn’t come up with something new; other communities have already put this ordinance in place.”

Young noted that most businesses already prohibit smoking on their premises.

Alderman Clemons said he has received letters supporting the ordinance.

“This is something I wanted to see done but something the business community here in Philadelphia has requested us to do,” Clemons said. “The business community sent (aldermen) letters earlier in the year requesting us to support it.

Both Young and Clemons said they have heard misinformation about the ordinance.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with people smoking in their car or at home,” Clemons said. “Some people have been misled. It has nothing to do with smokeless tobacco or having a barbecue in your backyard. This is not what it means. It covers second-hand tobacco smoke in the workplace and in public areas.”