SHEFFIELD — Lane Davis on Monday applauded City Council members who voted in favor of the city's anti smoking ordinance, but questioned why the new ordinance is not being enforced.
Davis, who does not live in Sheffield, said he comes for the night life, said he has had to endure secondhand smoke and poor ventilation.
"Why two months later are people still violating this ordinance?" he asked.
Davis, however, was countered by smokers, business owners and even some non-smokers, who believe the ordinance amounts to government overreach.
David Johnson, who owns David Johnson Productions, said he does not smoke but believes business owners should have the right to decide what goes on in their businesses.
Laquita Logan, who owns Zoey Belle's in downtown Sheffield and several other businesses, said it's difficult to move 20 feet from her doorway and not be in front of another businesses doorway. The ordinance states you must be 20 feet from an entrance of a business to legally smoke.
"I'm going to keep coming back," Logan said. "It's not a dead issue to me."
Logan was one of several people who spoke either for or against the controversial ordinance that was approved by a 4-2 vote in October. Mayor Ian Sanford and Councilman Steve Nix voted against the ordinance.
The sweeping anti-smoking ordinance prohibits smoking in all city buildings, city parks and all workplaces. It also prohibits smoking in vehicles if there are minor children present.
The ordinance has caused some restaurants to prohibit smoking and close smoking sections.
Carlos Sanchez, one of the owners of Fiesta Mexicana, said his business is down 40 percent since the ordinance was enacted. He admitted they had not begin enforcing the ordinance. Cajuns Restaurant has erected a tent outside his popular restaurant for smokers.
Sanford has set a meeting for Monday, Jan 14, to allow restaurant and business owners to air their concerns about the ordinance, which went into effect in November.
City Councilman Ronnie Wicks said he's happy with the way he voted.
Wicks said he's driven by George's Steak Pit, Fiesta Mexicana and Cajuns, three restaurants impacted by the smoking ban, and they appear to be doing well.
"There are a lot of cars at those places every time I drive by them," he said. "After a year, I think you could look at sales tax records and compare them."
Wicks said he is bothered by name calling on social media from smoking ordinance opponents. Wicks said he's been called "communist," "nazi," "stupid," "idiot," "goober" and even "a spineless bastard."
Wicks said he and his family have received threats via email.
"We've never had this problem with any other ordinance we've passed," Wicks said.
Councilman Steve Stanley said is not in favor of changing any parts of the ordinance.
"I don't have any issues with the ordinance at all," Stanley said Monday. "l don't have any interest in making changes."
He said while the ordinance went into effect the first of November, there really hasn't been any enforcement to speak of.
"So far the only negative effects from passing the ordinance is the reaction of the people to in it principle," Stanley said. "In fact, really nothing has changed."
Councilwoman Malea Scales said she is open to listening to business owners' issues with the ordinance.
Melanie Dickens, of the group Smoke Free Shoals, said they're still planning on providing training for the Police Department and other enforcement agencies, which include the Fire Department, health department and Building Department.
Eva Patterson, a cancer survivor, spoke out in favor of the ordinance, saying she does not appreciate going into a public place and having to inhale secondhand smoke.
She was told by several people simply not to patronize businesses that allow smoking. That was the sentiment of many who oppose the ordinance.
On several occasions, Sanford had to warn the standing room crowd to allow others to make their points.