I have recently become aware of your position on the proposed smoking ordinance for Meridian. It is very distressing to me to see that progress in public health and safety is being held up because of your apparent failure to see the larger picture.

Sadly, because of your opposition, and that of Councilman Palmer and Mayor Smith, it appears that we are continuing the trend of being last in the country in yet another important area.

Considering this issue is rapidly sweeping the nation and the world as a public health and safety issue, why not lead the way in adopting such an ordinance here, and just once let Mississippi be among the first, instead of the last?

It appears that you are holding back progress in our community with a conservative stance by attempting to tie this in with some idea of overbearing government regulation. Having heard how elegantly you spoke on the bright future of Meridian at the mayor’s inauguration, I am surprised to learn of this apparent inconsistency in your thinking.

I believe you were cited in the paper recently as stating that you are opposed to the ordinance because it constitutes a government interference with private business.

Yes, I agree that government interference should be limited. But as it relates to public health, and especially something as serious as the poisoning of ourselves and our children from second-hand smoke, it must be legislated out of acceptance forever and not left up to the whim and fancy of private businesses. It must, and it will be, eventually legislated out.

And because there are countless instances of government regulation for the sake of public health, it is not a stretch to see how this issue will fall under the same category, inevitably.

Please look at the success of other cites across the nation that have enforced a smoking-ban policy and reconsider your position. The evidence shows that revenues from smoke-free restaurants have not diminished.

If the restaurants in Meridian were smoke-free, I think you would find that people would go out more often, in fact. The city will benefit from the perception around the country that we are a clean, health-conscious place to live and retire.

Your vote in favor of a ban will prove to be the correct choice by the increased city tax revenues from a growing population of persons moving here who are seeking out a nice, clean environment in which to live.

Frankly, I am surprised to learn that you would not be in favor of such an ordinance. There are numerous instances in our community of non-smoking persons who have died from second-hand smoke.

Please do the right thing and support the ban. Do it for your community, councilman. We need your progressive and scholarly thinking to prevail.

Regan Velotas

James Harwell


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