Article Comment 

Columbus passes smoking ordinance


Kristin Mamrack



Without discussion, in a 4 to 2 vote, the Columbus City Council Tuesday passed a city-wide smoking ordinance. 


The ordinance, which largely is modeled after a Tennessee state law, bans smoking in “all enclosed public places,” including restaurants, but allows smoking in “age-restricted venues” — or bars, restaurants and other establishments which only allow people age 21 or older to enter — and “private clubs,” which restrict access to the general public. 


Additionally, the ordinance allows businesses with three or fewer employees to designate enclosed smoking rooms, inaccessible to the general public, and provides exemptions for “non-enclosed areas of public places, including, open-air patios, porches or decks.” 


Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens and Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box, who said he only could support a “zero-tolerance proposal,” voted against the ordinance. 


The ordinance now will “sit on the table” for 30 days, before being presented to the council for final adoption, said City Attorney Jeff Turnage. 


In another matter, the council issued a proclamation recognizing Alana V. Edwards, a Columbus native who recently became the youngest person elected to the Birmingham, Ala. Board of Education. 


A 2003 graduate of Victory Christian Academy and a 2007 graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Edwards, 23, is the youngest of six children and a daughter of Pastor J.C. Edwards and Lottie Edwards of Columbus; she also is the niece of Joe Edwards, Columbus’ first African American city councilman. 


Alana Edwards, who resides in Birmingham, defeated two-term incumbent Odessa Ashley, 75, for the District 7 seat and Monday was recognized by the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors for her accomplishments. 




Proposed ordinance  












WHEREAS, scientific studies have found that tobacco smoke is a major contributor to indoor air pollution; and 


WHEREAS, such scientific studies, including studies by the Surgeon General of the United States, have shown that breathing secondhand smoke poses a significant health hazard; and  


WHEREAS, the Mayor and the City Council find and declare that the purposes of this ordinance are to protect the public health and to promote the general welfare of its citizens by prohibiting smoking in public places and places of employment; and 


WHEREAS, the Mayor and the City Council find it in the best interest of the public health and welfare to provide a copy of the Smoking Ban Ordinance; 






1. Short Title. 




This Ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the "Columbus, Mississippi Non-Smoker Protection Act". 




2. Definitions. 




As used in this part, unless the context requires otherwise: 




(1) "Acceptable form of identification" means: 




(A) A state-issued driver license; 




(B) A state-issued identification card; 




(C) A valid passport; or 




(D) A valid military identification card; 




(2) "Age-restricted venue" means a legal establishment that affirmatively restricts access to its buildings or facilities at all times to persons who are twenty-one (21) years of age or older by requiring each person who attempts to gain entry to such buildings or facilities to submit for inspection an acceptable form of identification for the express purpose of determining if the person is twenty-one (21) years of age or older; 




(3) "Employee" means a person who is employed by an employer in consideration for direct or indirect monetary wages or profit and a person who volunteers such person's services for a non-profit entity; and 




(4) "Employer" means a person, business, partnership, association, corporation, including a municipal corporation, educational institution, trust, or non-profit entity that employs the services of one (1) or more individual persons; 




(5) "Enclosed area" means all space between a floor and ceiling that is enclosed on all sides by solid walls or windows, exclusive of doorways, which extend from the floor to ceiling; 




(6) "Health care facility" means an office or institution providing care or treatment of diseases, whether physical, mental, or emotional, or other medical, physiological, or psychological conditions. This definition shall include all waiting rooms, hallways, private rooms, semiprivate rooms, and wards within health care facilities; 




(7) "Person" means an individual, partnership, committee, association, corporation or any other organization or group of persons; 




(8) "Place of employment" means an enclosed area under the control of a public or private employer that employees normally frequent during the course of employment, including, but not limited to, work areas, private offices, employee lounges, restrooms, conference rooms, meeting rooms, classrooms, employee cafeterias, hallways, and vehicles. A private residence is not a "place of employment" unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility; 




(9) "Private club" means any club or organization that does not permit the general public access to its facilities or activities. Access is denied to anyone who does not agree or adhere to the rules of membership. In order to be considered a private club or organization for purposes of this part, the club or organization shall adhere to all of the following criteria: 




(A) Have a permanent mechanism to carefully screen applicants for membership on subjective rather than objective factors; 




(B) Limit access and use of facilities, services and activities of the organization to members and guests of the members; 




(C) Be controlled by its membership and operate solely for the benefit and pleasure of its members; and 




(D) Advertise exclusively and only to its members, excluding membership drives; 




"Private club" also means any institution or organization that has received a determination of exemption from the Internal Revenue Service under United States Code 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(19); 




(10) "Public place" means an enclosed area to which the public is invited including, but not limited to, banks, educational facilities, health care facilities, hotel and motel lobbies, laundromats, public transportation facilities, reception areas, restaurants, retail food production and marketing establishments, recreational facilities, retail service establishments, retail stores, shopping malls, sports arenas, theaters, places of employment and waiting rooms; 




(11) "Restaurant" means an eating establishment, including, but not limited to, coffee shops, cafeterias, sandwich stands, and private and public school cafeterias, which gives or offers for sale food to the public, guests, or employees, as well as kitchens and catering facilities in which food is prepared on the premises for serving elsewhere. The term "restaurant" shall include a bar area within the restaurant; 




(12) "Retail tobacco store" means a retail store that derives its largest category of sales from tobacco products and accessories; 




(13) "Service line" means an indoor line in which one (1) or more persons are waiting for or receiving service of any kind, whether or not the service involves the exchange of money; 




(14) "Shopping mall" means an enclosed public walkway or hall area that serves to connect retail or professional establishments; 




(15) "Smoking" means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or other lighted tobacco or similar product in any manner or in any form; and 




(16) "Sports arena" means sports pavilions, stadiums, gymnasiums, health spas, boxing arenas, swimming pools, roller and ice rinks, bowling alleys, and other similar places where members of the general public assemble to engage in physical exercise, participate in athletic competition, o




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Reader Comments

Article Comment BMCG commented at 12/2/2009 11:48:00 AM:

CONGRATULATIONS on a huge progressive step for Columbus! While I am also in favor of a 100% across the board ban in all public buildings like Councilmen Mickens and Box, this is a great start. Since the owners of establishments who will operate the 21 year old age resticted venues will have to enforce the age limit "at all times" and not just when convenient to do so, they'll have a decision to make as to how to run their business. I, along with several others, am looking forward to dining and nightlife without feeling as though I smoked a pack myself and without having to leave my clothes out on the patio. I'm also really looking forward to spending more money here in Columbus rather than driving to Starkville!


Article Comment walter commented at 12/2/2009 11:57:00 AM:

In re the smoking ordinance, true democratic rules carried the day.

A Thousand Congrats to The Edwards for producing and nurturing a positive young lady who is carrying on a family tradition in B'Ham reflective of the great work of her uncle, former councilman, Joe Edwards, a real pioneer and true hero to many.


Article Comment Bob commented at 12/2/2009 1:08:00 PM:

You must realize that a well funded "war on smokers" is underway. Here's where it started:

And what the 99 million dollars was going to. Note on page seven the "inside -out", provision going for patios later, AFTER business owners spend thousands of dollars to build them to accommodate their smoking customers, clearly showing that the tobacco control activists have ABSOLUTLY NO CONCERN about local issues or businesses. You may need to CTRL and scoll to enlarge it.

Here's the "model ban" from page eight that many communities copied, printed, and passed. It's the "smoking ban for dummies" It only takes a few minutes to fill in the blanks naming your community, the administrators names, and blanks to customize it to your community. Note that it doesn't mention patios. They don't want anyone to know that they will be targeted next.


Article Comment Ted commented at 12/2/2009 2:44:00 PM:


You have posted that same thing before. Just quit smoking you bag of leather.


Article Comment KJ commented at 12/2/2009 4:14:00 PM:

Good job. Now can we please ban babies from public areas? Their loud crying is detrimental to my hearing. It really isn't fair that people with babies can simply bring them anyplace and inflect them on the rest of us. It's a public safety issue that I think the council should consider.


Article Comment what??? commented at 12/2/2009 4:41:00 PM:

bob stop posting your useless info. Nobody cares about the things you keep posting about. child isn't bad for you health. Smoking is, its bad for everyone. Besides, if you don't like crying babies then stay home, afterall thats what smokers tell us nonsmokers


Article Comment A. commented at 12/2/2009 4:44:00 PM:

Stop being a hater KJ!! Bob you have posted the exact thing thing before, get a life, why would a business spend money on a patio for the few that do smoke anyway??YAY for columbus, finally something has moved in the right direction!!


Article Comment YAY! commented at 12/2/2009 4:55:00 PM:


BMCG I agree with you that there should be a 100% across the board smoking ban, especially since the business owners against the smoking ban said they would rather it be 100% or nothing. I fear that this limited ban will only cause problems, but glad that they started somewhere.


Article Comment Fred commented at 12/2/2009 10:54:00 PM:

It is a sad day for individual rights in Columbus and the nation. The free market is being undermined by a subversive government.

These are PRIVATE businesses that should have the right to make their own business decisions on allowing smoking in THEIR establishments. These are not PUBLIC entities. People choose to do business with them or not. If you don't like the fact that a restaurant allows smoking, don't go there. Let the market work.

You folks are voting away your own freedoms.


Article Comment harleyrider1978 commented at 12/3/2009 9:35:00 AM:

This just goes to show the council bought into charlie box's ACS propaganda. Not taking the time to look up the propaganda box fed them. The surgeon generals report has been debunked by peer review,Its nothing more than a rehash of psuedo studies from the vacated 1992 epa shs report. The only thing that can explain this vote is that all the council is made up of liberal progressives towing the anti-smoking agenda.

Corrupt science has two salient characteristics. First, instead of starting with a hypothesis and data and deriving from that a conclusion, it does just the opposite: starting with a desired conclusion, it then selects data in order to support the hypothesis. Second, it stifles dissent by excluding dissenters from the process of review and by using ad hominem arguments to question their character and motives. The EPA is guilty on both counts.

Of the 30 studies on spousal smoking referred to in the EPA report, only 6 found any statistically significant association between ETS and cancer in nonsmokers married to smokers, and none found a strong relative risk. The studies actually used by the EPA were limited to 11 studies done in the United States. Using the EPA's own Guidelines for Carcenogenic Risk Assessment, none of these showed a statistically significant risk. These guidelines call for a 95% Confidence Interval. By lowering it to 90%, only one of the 11 studies showed a statistically significant risk. More importantly, the two largest and most recent studies, one of which was partially funded by the National Cancer Institute, were omitted from consideration altogether. Had these two been included, no statistically significant risk would have been found even after lowering the Confidence Interval to 90%. Even after violating its own guidelines, in other words, the EPA could still show no statistically significant risk without selecting data to fit its hypothesis. This cooked data is the EPA's only basis for declaring ETS to be a "Group A" carcinogen. ("Group A", incidentally, does not mean "extra deadly". It simply means "human".)

The EPA's studies on ETS operate under a "zero threshold" hypothesis, or the assumption that if huge quantities of something are dangerous, then microscopic quantities are dangerous also. The data they used, however, fails to bear this out: virtually all of the studies used either found no risk at all or a risk so weak that it would not be considered significant if applied to other subjects.


Article Comment melody commented at 12/3/2009 1:57:00 PM:

Way to go What?? Bout time someone put that crybaby KJ in his place. As far as freedom and rights go- You are free and have a right to step in front of a speeding train but just be ready to pay for your lack of judgement probably with your life. Those business owners who want to go ahead and allow smoking are free to do so. Probably will have to pay a small fine if caught so why not go ahead and ignore the gov. People bread the law everyday there in Columbus- running stop signs and speeding and trash out their windows onto your roads. Very few are ever caught and punished so go for it.


Article Comment Fred commented at 12/3/2009 2:49:00 PM:

So Melody are we to understand that you are condoning criminal behaviour?


Article Comment KJ commented at 12/3/2009 3:18:00 PM:

Actually, what I tell you non-smokers is to open your own non-smoking establishments, which you are free to do. However, you don't want to open your own establishments because you feel entitled to require everyone else to behave the way you would like them to instead of allowing them to make choices for themselves. The point of the baby ban is to point out the kind of precedent that intolerant majorities are setting with these kinds of laws: all freedoms are secure not because they are constitutionally protected any longer but because they happen to be the freedoms that the current majority agrees with. If you happen to fall out of that majority in the future, you will have enabled the majority to limit your own freedoms.


Article Comment KJ commented at 12/3/2009 3:20:00 PM:

And Melody, perhaps one day you will have more to offer than inappropriate ad hominem attacks on other commenters. But I somehow doubt it.


Article Comment melody commented at 12/3/2009 9:45:00 PM:

Just trying to follow your lead, KJ. I've ignored some of your put down's in the past without a hint of rebutal and I'm not going to lower myself now. Never said I was a non smoker but might have to become one if the dems keep raising the taxes. The point that What??? made is pretty clear-- there is a big difference in the baby and smoke. Surely you can see that, KJ.


Article Comment Toni Hall commented at 12/4/2009 8:12:00 AM:

Dear KJ, I think we should ban idiots like you from public areas instead of babies. Babies are not a public safety issue, however idiots like you are!


Article Comment Mike Nonamaker commented at 12/4/2009 8:20:00 AM:

I am a smoker,and do not care who knows it!I am wondering if I was to open an establishment of any kind,if I can discriminate against non-smokers the same way the smokers are being discriminated against.Could I ban non-smokers from coming in,or make them sit in a small room off to them self,so that the public can not see that they do not smoke?That is what the smokers go through,turn about is fair play,or is it because we choose to do something that some people don't agree with,that we are treated this way?Good ole boy justice at it's finest,that is all that Lowndes county and the city of Columbus concerns itself with!


Article Comment omg really?? commented at 12/4/2009 9:23:00 AM:

I think it is taking rights from those of us who choose to smoke, if smoking is soo bad then why have cigarettes available and legal anyway? Just take away all our rights till we all quit, and I hate when babies cry when I am trying to have a nice dinner out just like some non-smokers hate smoke, but no one would stand up and say they want them out! And for the most part the businesses of Columbus have done a great job with keeping smoking and non-smoking sections separated. I think it should be up to the business owners what they want to do with their businesses! At least we can still smoke in bars? Guess that life style is risky enough, you drink you should die from second hand smoking (this is a facetious remark by the way)....


Article Comment Fred commented at 12/4/2009 9:31:00 AM:

Don't you just love it when people who lose the logical arguments resort to name calling. Kind of takes me back to my old elementary school playground days.

For the record, I don't smoke and I tend to avoid places where the smoke is annoying. People need to understand that the argument here is not about smoking, it is about freedom. These laws are just another chipping away of your civil rights. They are another inroad into private enterprise. The government has no business dictating business decisions to private entrepreneurs. Tobacco is legal, it is heavily taxed, and its usage in private places should not be regulated.


Article Comment melody commented at 12/4/2009 9:51:00 AM:

I'd bet any amount that non smokers would not go near your establishment of 'smokers only', Mike. That's a no brainer.
And to really?? For many years now , people who can read the outside of the cig. pack , it plainly says that the smoke causes lung CANCER!! Wake UP!! More reality--You haven't eaten in Harvey's for sure. Smoke from the bar comes right over the wall into the dining area, not a good job of seperating the two.
Hey Toni, A 'No idiots allowed' sign might be a little harsh to put in your window. 'No liberal dems allowed' sounds better and means the same thing, don't you think so?


Article Comment YAY! commented at 12/4/2009 5:03:00 PM:

Get 'em melody!!!
Thanks for standing up, I've been sick of kj's nonsense too!


Article Comment gogetum commented at 12/7/2009 10:40:00 AM:

It's really too bad the 4 who voted for this thing didn't have the guts to make it a zero tolerance ordinance. My hat is off to the two who voted against it because doing something halfassed is not right. Either do it like it should be done or not at all. My Mom always said , "anything worth doing at all is worth doing right".


Article Comment snm1718 commented at 12/8/2009 1:16:00 PM:

We're going in the right direction! Hopefully next time it will be 4 votes for zero tolerance!! Starkville is smoke free. The whole state of Georgia has been smoke free for years now. Congratulations to Mickens and Box!!


Article Comment Zondra Bess commented at 2/16/2010 12:48:00 PM:

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALANA V. EDWARDS!!! That's a huge accomplishment as she carries on the family torch of success!!


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