Hernando's controversial vaping ordinance was approved Tuesday on a 4-3 vote which amends the city's smoking ban to include prohibiting vaping in public places with the exception of allowing vaping inside a business in which more than 75 percent of the business is "vaping related."
The exception, which applies to all future vaping businesses established and permitted within the city, does not apply if tobacco is also sold with the business.
No person under age 18 will be allowed inside a vaping business.
Ward 2 Alderman Andrew Miller said he looked at Tupelo's vaping provisions and other cities as well and he was of the opinion that the 75 percent threshold was a good percentage in which to exempt a business from a ban on vaping inside a vaping business.
Southaven's vaping ordinance is more strict, requiring a separate ventilation unit to prevent vapors from seeping into adjoining businesses if located within a connected shopping complex, according to Miller.
Miller said in his opinion, requiring a separate ventilation apparatus was going too far.
"When you start regulating ventilation systems, you are technically voting them out of business," Miller said.
Without that requirement in place, adjoining businesses would have to seek a legal remedy against a vaping business on their own if they felt vapors were objectionable or harmful.
Under the vaping amendment to the city's smoking ordinance, no individual will be able to vape inside a restaurant or any other public building.
The ordinance only applies to future vaping businesses. All existing vaping businesses would be "grandfathered in" before the vaping amendment to the city's smoking ordinance takes effect.
Ward 3 Alderman Gary Higdon, who has been a vocal critic of granting any time of special exemption for vaping, said the harmful effects of vaping "are all over the internet."
Before the vote, Higdon said the City of Hernando was about to "open a can of worms."
"I think what you are discussing, it will be a hell of a burden on the police department," Higdon said. "If we make an exception, we're opening a can of worms."
Voting against the motion as presented were Higdon, Ward 5 Alderperson Cathy Brooks and Ward 5 Alderman Michael McLendon.
Voting for the amendment to the city's smoking ordinance as presented were Miller, E.R. "Sonny" Bryant, Alderman at large W.I. "Doc" Harris and Ward 6 Alderman Jeff Hobbs.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.