Smoke-free Southaven in the works - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Smoke-free Southaven in the works

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (FOX13) -

There's a movement going on in Southaven to make the city a smoke-free zone.
 
Mayor Darren Musselwhite is pushing an ordinance that would ban smoking in restaurants and other buildings. He says it's the number one concern people have been talking to him about since he became mayor.

This isn't a new concept. Hernando and Olive Branch have adopted smoke-free ordinances but that doesn't mean smokers in Southaven will go away quietly.

Smoking in public places in Southaven could soon be a thing of the past. Mayor Musselwhite has recommended to the Southaven Board of Aldermen that the city start considering an ordinance banning smoking in restaurants and other buildings.

Jill Morris is one of the people behind pushing for a Smoke-Free-Southaven for more than five years now. She's thrilled Mayor Musselwhite is on board with the concept.

"I almost shed tears at the meeting last night," she said. "I was just so overwhelmed by his statement."

Morris said Mississippians need to know how harmful secondhand smoke is.

"The data that is most disturbing to me is that in 2012 almost 600 Mississippians died from second hand smoke," says Morris.

It's why Morris has so passionately devoted time and efforts to doing research and giving presentations. No matter the statistics, smokers like Wanya Hale say they're not happy about the possible ordinance.

"You should be able to smoke in a public place as long as it's okay with the manager," Hale said.

"They definitely can do that in the privacy of their own personal space, but I choose not to," Morris said. "So I would appreciate they not bring that into my environment."

Morris said people with health conditions like asthma, allergies or cancer remission deserve to safely enjoy public places. She says some restaurants have voluntarily gone "smoke-free" and places like Outback Steakhouse in Southaven are receiving positive feedback.

"Their revenue for 2013 increased $300,000 and he's still seeing a good increase over that even," Morris said.

Still, the ordinance is a tough sell for smokers, who say their business matters too.

"Everybody's entitled to an opinion," Hale added. "It's a free country."

Mayor Musselwhite said he will most likely have a proposal ready within the next 30-60 days.

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