Dothan resident Mary Sue Evans says she doesn't support a proposed ordinance that would ban smoking because it should be a common courtesy for smokers to not light up around nonsmokers.
"I feel like my rights are taken away from me. Like ya'll are cramming things down my throat and a lot of other people’s throats and that's not right! I pay a lot of taxes on a pack of cigarettes and that does a lot of good for the city of Dothan," Evans says.
But in a public hearing held Thursday on the issue, Evans seemed to be alone.
"I don't feel like the smokers in this city have had a real chance to voice their opinion!" she continues.
Health officials from the Dothan-Houston County Substance Abuse Partnership and Dothan residents presented what they believed to be concrete evidence as to why smoking should be banned in public places.
"Smoking is the single largest cause of deaths in the United States each year. 440,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses; that includes 58,000 nonsmokers," said American Heart Association Representative John Williams during the public meeting.
"What brought the issue closer to home for me and had the most lasting impact was watching a friend die from tobacco-smoke. Not that she ever smoked a cigarette in her life but she worked in a place where she had to deal with secondhand smoke," said Dothan Resident Deborah Thomas.
But in the end, the decision will rest with city commissioners.
There's no set date when the issue will go before the commission or if it will even make it to the commission chambers.
Under the city of Dothan’s current ordinance, a business owner can choose whether or not they will allow smoking in their place of business.
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