HED: City of Oxford tweaks smoking ban ordinance

The Associated Press

OXFORD - Oxford aldermen have made some slight changes to a local anti-smoking ordinance to conform to a federal judge's ruling on Tupelo's no smoking ordinance.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills declined to stop the enforcement of Tupelo's smoking ban, but he did change some of the language.

In the enforcement section, the Tupelo ordinance, which went into effect Oct. 5, gave police the power "whenever they deemed it necessary" to go into a business named in the ordinance to see if the premises are in compliance. Mills removed that phrase saying it gave overly broad authority to the police in enforcing the ban.

Like Tupelo, Oxford based its smoking ordinance on an American Lung Association model. Oxford's ordinance had the same language, which aldermen this week removed.

Mills also changed the definition of a public place in Tupelo's ordinance. The ordinance now defines a public place where smoking may be banned as an enclosed area in which invited members of the public gather or that is used by the general public. Mills said buildings could have a public place to which the public is not invited such as private offices. These would not be subject to the ban.

Oxford aldermen also adopted the change.

Oxford City Attorney Stuart McCleur said the city will continue to look at any other changes Mills may make to the Tupelo ordinance.

Oxford's ordinance took effect in mid-November. It prohibits smoking in most public places, including city buildings, retail stores, bars and restaurants. Smoking is allowed at the bars and restaurants that have balconies, patios or porches that are uncovered.

If more than 50 percent of the perimeter of these areas is walled or partially covered or closed to the outside, smoking will not be permitted in those areas.

Businesses have placed signs at their primary entrances that display the international no smoking symbol.

Violators of the ordinance will be fined $50 for the first offense and up to $250 for the second offense.

Businesses who violate the ordinance will receive a $100 fine for the first offense and $200 for the second violation within one year. For each additional violation, the business owner will be fined $500. The business is also subject to the revocation of its permit from the city.

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