Smoking Ban: Candidates Talk Health, Liabilities and Civil Liberties

All four Gulfport City Council Candidates discuss smoking ban, Clam Bayou, red light cameras and more at City of Gulfport and League of Women Voters "Meet the Candidates" forum Monday night.

On Tuesday, March 13, voters will decide who should represent the city for the Ward 1 and Ward 3 council seats. On Monday night, residents and supporters packed the Catherine Hickman Theater in Gulfport for the annual "Meet the Candidates" Forum moderated by the League of Women Voters.

Dwight Lawton with the League of Women Voters asked the questions and candidates were given one minute each to answer each question. The event finished at the end of one hour with a two-minute closing from each candidate.

Gulfport Patch put together the responses from each candidate about the smoking ban on the beach.

Smoking Ban on the Gulfport Beach

Ward 1 Candidate Dan Liedtke

"I'm ok with that and I'm especially ok with that around playgrounds. But, what concerns me is there's a state law that supersedes the city ordinance that was passed. So, what you have is people who want to challenge that. Now we've created a liability for the city. They had a 'smoke in' a couple weeks ago about 20 people showed up, they all wanted to get a ticket. And the police wouldn't write a ticket because the signs weren't up to what he considered readable or wasn't up to the city's standards. We need to be aware of our state law and not create liabilities on the city."

Ward 3 Candidate James Perry

"There's probably nobody in here that despises smoking anymore than me. It killed my mother at a young age. But, I think that everyone in this country has the right to be able to smoke as long as they're not jeopardizing someone else's health. Definitely not around the playgrounds, there should be areas designated for people to smoke. If you look at any historical papers back in the day, you'll see the Model T's and you see the elderly men . . .there was nothing like going down to Gulfport Beach and sitting out in the afternoons and smoking a stogie . . . that's part of Gulfport's heritage and I don't want to take it away from anybody. As long as they put their butts in the container . . .and they're not hurting anyone else, I don't see a problem with it. . . it's their right to smoke."

Ward 3 Candidate Jennifer Salmon

"My initial opinion was that we have the Indoor Clean Air Act and that forced people who smoke to go outside. We passed an ordinance, which I voted in favor of eventually. I raised these same concerns about civil liberties. The reason why I passed it is because I really did want to protect our playgrounds. I have a son and there's nothing more frustrating than to be sitting at the beach playground and having a bunch of people smoking around the children. We will review it in one year's time and that was one thing that gave me hope. If there aren't major problems that is brought up in terms of court cases or anything and it's actually working . . . . . it is an infringement on civil liberties when we've already moved people out of buildings and into the fresh air."

Ward 1 Candidate David Hastings

"I was the city council person that originally brought this issue forward. And city council eventually passed it 5 - 0 in favor of the smoking ban, tobacco ban on our beaches, little league field, playgrounds and our parks throughout the city. 83% of Floridians do not smoke. We have first hand smoke issues, which certainly causes a tremendous amount of death in the United States, we have second hand smoke and now there's even something called third hand smoke. We did set aside a part of the beach east of the Casino down to the Pier that smoking, tobacco use is allowed so we didn't eliminate it all. As far as the state law, there is no state law that prohibits the localities from enforcing this. That is an Attorney General opinion that the clean indoor act applies to the outdoor."

Cherlene Willis February 10, 2012 at 03:23 PM
As the Editor of Gulfport Patch, I greatly appreciate the arguments that are being presented on the site. Thank you all for stating your opinions in a professional manner.
Mark L Grantham February 12, 2012 at 09:16 PM
personally, I find the ban on smoking that the city of Gulfport has, is a wonderful and long overdue idea. An individual does not have the right to light up while in the presence of others, it is a privilege not a right. if an individual desires to smoke, a few paces to a designated area is not a problem, to me. I find it a tad bit arrogant on the part of a smoker to feel that blowing smoke in the face of others a Personal right, a Civil Liberty. There are already bans on alcoholic beverages, dogs and fires, these are not only nuisances they are public safety issues. one is hopefully also considerate of others, part of this consideration is "doing the next best thing", and to me, this is definitely not ignoring a ban, in most cases, these are there for our safety.
Jonik February 14, 2012 at 08:28 PM
This No Tobacco law could be used to expose the fraud of the anti-smoking crusade. Any number of cigarettes may not contain a shred of tobacco. They may be made entirely in US Patented ways from many kinds of industrial waste cellulose with flavorings, colors, scents and uniform shots of nicotine added. Patents cover the use of wood chips, paper, corn cobs, coffee bean hulls, etc. Patents are under the heading, "tobacco substitute material". One cannot get dreaded Tobacco Smoke from that. Since the laws are based on "harms of tobacco smoke", there is no health justification for banning the fake tobacco products. No law requires labeling of this stuff. Officials even collect "tobacco taxes" on non-tobacco concoctions, shops that sell them are called "tobacco shops" and manufacturers are called "Big Tobacco". Even if a cigarette is based on actual tobacco, generally it's not nice golden leaves but, instead, a form of paper (reconstituted tobacco) made from pesticide-contaminated, possibly radiation-contaminated, tobacco roots, stems, twigs, veins, dust and sweepings, with any selection of untested often toxic additives. To call that "tobacco" is a stretch, possibly perjury if said under oath. Once this cigarette ingredients scandal is raised, the whole anti-tobacco deal may collapse. Worth a try.
Jonik February 14, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Search up "Fauxbacco" for ample references about what a cigarette really is. It's Required Reading in order to discuss the issue properly. The "anti smoking" (anti the behavior of the victims) campaign is about protecting the cigarette industry (incl ingredients suppliers) from massive PR damage, liability suits and even criminal charges. The campaign is not as wholesome as it is disguised. It cannot be wholesome and healthy if it allows the continued use of some of the worst industrial substances in the products, denies consumers information and specific warnings, and denies harmed, defrauded consumers their rights to compensation. The laws are based on health claims about tobacco, but, apparently, no studies have yet been presented about the harms of plain, uncontaminated, tobacco. The word "tobacco" is never qualified, a necessity in matters of medicine, science, and law. Mother Nature's tobacco plant is being convicted without a trial.
CJ February 14, 2012 at 08:55 PM
I think Cheech and Chong would say that is really far out, man... I get the impression you have tobbaco leaves ground up and use it on your food like pepper. I am impressed by how much you believe in what you say. It's hard to fault what you say when it is obviouse you beleive all you say. I wouldn't know where to end and begin replying back, other than to say that it's a free world and you can believe what you want. I suppose in some cultures tobacco is even an important part of religion. Here in Flordia and St Pete/Gulfport..most keep it less dramatic than all that. I think most people, despite these fantastics ''facts'' of yours, still despise how much litter and nastiness is caused by tobacco...although..I remember few replies on this topic ove the last few months, more interesting than yours.


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