Of eight committee members present at a meeting Wednesday, four were in favor of creating an ordinance to regulate smoking in public places in Meridian and four are opposed.
Retired serviceman and former mayoral candidate Bill McBride led off the discussion.
"Somewhere in one of these meetings, and I'll tell everybody right now, I'm going to make a motion that this committee not put forth, I repeat not put forth, any proposed smoking ban in the city of Meridian," McBride said.
McBride's position is that, while individuals had rights, business owners had rights as well. That brought a response from Alicia Parker, representing the American Cancer Society.
"I agree with Bill, that we are possibly going to infringe on some business rights, but you have to ask yourself, what what's more important, individual rights or business owners rights?" said Parker.
"Individuals have the right to choose to come to my establishment or to not come to my establishment," said Grae Dickson, manager of Crescent City Grill.
“Where the business as far as this ordinance goes we've be losing rights. Where the individual still has the right to come to my business or not come to my business. The only one whose rights are being infringed upon, I believe, would be the business owners."
But fellow business owner, Maurice Lefevre of Chunky River Harley Davidson, disagreed. He prohibits smoking at his establishment.
"So the fact is something does have to be done. I do have a right to go in a restaurant and I have a right to go in a supermarket or basically any place I want to without being forced to breathe cigarette smoke," said LeFevre.
Committee chairperson councilwoman Barbara Henson charged each member to state his or her positions on paper and return for another meeting Feb. 2.