SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — David Stewart takes a long drag on his cigarette at Southaven’s Country Skillet restaurant. It’s one of his last.
Southaven’s ban on smoking in public places takes effect at the beginning of August.
”The city government is taking rights away for us to smoke. I feel like it should be up to the business owner.”
It’s got smokers, well, fuming over their rights. Lots of folks say it amounts to city leaders telling them how to live.
Southaven’s smoking ban even extends to spaces just outside businesses. In fact, you have to be 15 feet away from a building before you can light up.
Larry Ray, a non-smoker, says it’s only fair.
”I think if a guy showed up out front here with a gallon of Jack Daniels and comes through the door and says, ‘OK everybody’s gotta take a drink,’ and some say, ‘My family don’t drink,’ here’s the point.”
Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite said citizens pushed for the ban, calling it a public safety and economic image issue.
But business owner Shirley Looney wonders about that economic image. She says she’s willing to give no smoking a try.
“If this doesn’t work out, you’re gonna see me again on your Channel 3 News because I’m wondering how much taxes they’ll lose if they put all the people out of business,” she said.
Smokers here say it’s not so much about smoking and health, as it is about fundamental American rights.
”If they’re gonna take away my right to smoke in here, what’s the next thing they’ll take away?” asked Stewart.
The ban makes Horn Lake, and unincorporated DeSoto County, about the only places people who smoke can enjoy a cup of coffee and a smoke.