As a concerned citizen of Harrison County and an active volunteer firefighter, I would like to inform the citizens of Harrison County of the ramifications of the proposed non-smoking (ordinance).
The Harrison County Board of health already has in effect a policy that, under state law, provides reasonable accommodation for non-smoking patrons in local restaurants. The policy states that 75 percent of the area in a restaurant be designated to those non-smoking customers and 25 percent to those who smoke. In my research I have found that upwards of 90 percent of Harrison County businesses comply with these regulations.
I feel that if this bill were allowed to pass, local businesses would suffer a substantial loss of patrons, in turn resulting in a loss of profit and local jobs. These lost jobs are totally unnecessary in a county and state already overwhelmed with unemployment. Estimated employment in Harrison County was 31,000, compared with a total population of near 70,000.
Also, this would cause a heavy downfall in the attendance at local bingo games, which are the major incomes of local volunteer fire departments. These departments run bingo games in local bingo halls and public buildings where this ban would be implicated. My findings are that (most) of the bingo players are smokers and the majority of them would not attend 4- to 5-hour sessions of bingo if they could not smoke.
This loss of funds would raise everyone's fire insurance because the monies would not be there for these departments to purchase new equipment and continue to update and service the current equipment they use. ...
The country we live in is a constitutional republic that is supposed to protect the rights of the minorities, not a democracy that is controlled by the ideas of the majority. In a day and age where we so actively pursue minority rights, this would be a major step back in the constant struggle for equality in this great nation.