City leaders to discuss smoking ordinance today
by David Lazenby
Sep 29, 2011 | 1873 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Jasper City Council will meet at 11:30 a.m. today for a work session being held at City Hall to discuss a proposed ordinance that would prohibit smoking in public buildings within the city limits.

Mayor Sonny Posey said the ordinance that was introduced during a Sept. 20 meeting of the city council is based partly on laws regarding smoking in Homewood.

Joining city officials today will be representatives of the American Cancer Society, who Posey said will be available to answer questions.

Posey said he has been researching the issue for some time since proposing a city-wide smoking ordinance several years ago.

About six months ago, the issue was reintroduced by Councilor Morris Studdard. At the time, there were indications that Alabama lawmakers were preparing to pass a law that would ban smoking in public facilities across the state, so city officials decided to wait.

Councilor Gary Cowen said at the time that some business owners were wary of making costly modifications that would allow patrons to smoke in their establishments only to have a more restrictive state-wide ban make the refurbishments useless.

When nothing was passed by the state, Studdard a proponent of the ban, asked the Council to again consider new laws to protect its citizens from second-hand smoke.

Posey called the ordinance proposed an “all-inclusive ban.”

“I think this is going to be one of the model ordinances in the state,” Posey said.

He added that city officials may discuss making the ordinance more stringent in regard to the minimum distance outdoor smoking areas must be from an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited.

“Ten feet is not that far,” Posey said. “I’m thinking 30 (feet) would be better.”

Although none of the city officials expressed opposition to the ban during discussions on the matter, there has been some debate about how far new tobacco regulations should go.

No action on the ordinance will be taken during today’s work session. Posey said the smoking ban would likely be voted on at the next Council meeting at 10 a.m. on Oct. 4.