Oxford business owner fights proposed ordinance

The City of Oxford will soon vote on a proposed ordinance that will ban smoking in public buildings, and at least one local business owner is fighting to stop it.

Parrish Baker, owner of a small pub in downtown Oxford, claims he will lose thousands of dollars in revenue if customers are not allowed to smoke in his bar.  In an effort to rally support to his position, Baker recently began sending out flyers and a petition, and started a website, TakeOurTownBack.com.

"As long as cigarettes are legal to buy and sell, I don't think the city needs to get involved," Baker said.

The Mayor of Oxford, Richard Howorth, said he supports the ordinance because of a recent Surgeon General's report outlining the dangers of second-hand smoke to non-smokers.  Howorth says communities who have enforced a smoking ban don't regret it. "Talking to other mayors and other people in the community where this has happened, they invariably say, 'Oh, we thought it was such a big deal; such a big argument,'" he said. "Then, after they did it, a year later, everybody's like, 'Gee, why didn't we do it earlier?'"

A public hearing is set on the matter for next Tuesday.  Howorth said he expects people on both sides of the issue to passionately argue their point.