ACS, Coalition Renew Call for Smoking Ordinance

Efforts to get a smoking ordinance passed in Meridian are being renewed with the coming of a new administration. For at least the last four years, the American Cancer Society and a local coalition have been working together to try to get an ordinance passed in Meridian.

One such measure was vetoed several years ago by Mayor John Robert Smith. Coalition member, Jeanette Gossett, says this time the city is ready.

"I think so. The people that we've talked to in the past, it's been positive," Gossett said.

Although she never smoked, Gossett is a lung cancer survivor who says she developed it as a result of second-hand smoke.

So far, at least thirty communities in Mississippi have passed smoking ordinances of some sort. On average, American Cancer Society officials say it has taken about one year to get ordinances passed in those areas.

"The readiness of your people determines the length of your campaign," said Lillie Willis of the American Cancer Society. "For the city of Hattiesburg, we worked for 5 years."

Members of the coalition say this time they want Meridian officials not only to consider the concerns of people who live right in the city but those who live outside it as well.

"I think they ought to listen to them because part of our tax base comes from the money people spend in Meridian," said Gossett.

"Lung cancer affects everybody, whether you are a smoker or not a smoker," said Willis. "And therefore, any laws that we support, we try to encourage getting the strongest possible laws to provide protection, ideally protection for all."

With newly elected city officials set to be sworn in next week, smoking ordinance supporters say they are waiting right now for all officials to get settled into office. But they hope to at least have an ordinance on the table for consideration within the next year.


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