The Mississippi legislature will once again consider whether or not to ban smoking in a myriad of places, including public and private places of employment, private clubs, residential facilities, and certain outdoor public places.
HB 739, known as the Mississippi Smokefree Air Act of 2014, was introduced in the Mississippi House and referred to the Public Health and Human Services Committee on Jan. 20, the last action documented on the bill.
Introduced by Rep. Bryant Clark, D-47, the Act would ban smoking in all enclosed areas and would extend to vehicles owned, leased or operated by the state or its subdivisions as well as property adjacent to places where smoking would be prohibited by creating a 20 foot no smoking zone from entrances, windows and ventilation systems to buildings. In addition, it would require the clear posting of no smoking signs in places of employment and other public places covered by the bill. The bill provides no exemptions for cigar stores or other lounges.
Individuals who violate the law by smoking in an area deemed to be non-smoking by the bill would be charged with a misdemeanor and subject to a $50 fine. Owners and operators of buildings or establishments who fail to comply with the law would be guilty of fines starting at $100 for the first offense and rising to $500 per violation in a one year period. In addition, they would be subject to potentially having their business license or permit revoked.
According to the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), there were at least seven bills introduced in the Mississippi legislature to restrict smoking in public areas in 2013, all of which died.
If passed, the bill would go into effect on July 1, 2014.