City passes non-smoking ordinance

Starting in January, residents of Hoover might want to reconsider before lighting up.

The Hoover City Council passed a non-smoking ordinance Sept. 2 that prohibits smoking in public places such as restaurants, shopping malls, businesses and schools. Signs must be posted to let people know smoking is prohibited.

Smoking is also prohibited within 10 feet of public places.

The ban goes into effect Jan. 2, 2009.

Measures had to be taken to protect the health of Hoover’s citizens, said Mayor Tony Petelos.

“More and more research shows that smoking is detrimental to your health,” Petelos said. “We had waited for the (state) legislature to do this for the past couple years, but that didn’t happen so we just decided to go ahead and move forward with it.”

Petelos said he would have preferred the state legislature to pass a smoking ban so that the requirements would have been uniform across the state, but he felt a citywide ban was needed since the statewide ban didn’t happen.

The city council has been considering a ban since Petelos was elected four years ago, he said.

Petelos said he doesn’t expect much opposition from area business owners. The ban includes some exemptions for businesses, such as allowing hotels to designate some rooms as smoking and allowing restaurants to have smoking sections that are physically separated from non-smoking sections. Owners of bars and pubs can also declare their establishments to be smoking in their entirety to get out of the smoking ordinance.

Since non-smoking ordinances are common in surrounding areas, businesses have gotten used to the idea, Petelos said.

“Most of the surrounding communities have passed an ordinance similar to this,” he said.

Response from the community has been positive, he said.

Anyone smoking in an area where smoking is prohibited is subject to a fine of $50.