The Clarion-Ledger Editorial, 3/24/8

Last week, the city of Gulfport joined the growing list of cities around the state adopting public smoking ordinances.

Unfortunately, an effort to strengthen Jackson’s smoking rules appears to be faltering.

Last week, the Gulfport City Council approved an ordinance to ban smoking in public places, including restaurants and offices. It applies to casino restaurants, but exempts gaming areas and bars in casinos. It exempts free-standing bars, but a combination restaurant-bar must be no smoking.

That’s not the best solution because it determines the health of people in one establishment is worth protecting, while another is not. Still, it is a big step forward for Gulfport, especially since it tackles the smoke-filled world of casinos at some level.

Jackson has an existing smoking ordinance, but it is so weak as to be almost non-existent. The ordinance, approved in 2003, bans smoking in businesses where the public goes, but exempted restaurants and bars, which is the primary issue in limiting secondhand smoke.