More business owners may join potential lawsuit over Sheffield smoking ban

The smoking ban took effect in October of 2018.

Posted: Jun 18, 2019 2:54 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2019 5:53 PM

WAAY 31 heard on Tuesday from more business owners in Sheffield, who say the city's smoking ban has stopped their dreams of opening cigar lounges.

At Monday night's Sheffield City Council meeting, Mayor Ian Sanford said they might call a special city council meeting to discuss the issue, or face being sued.

Tracie Mills owns a property on North Jackson Highway within the Sheffield City limits. She said her retirement plan was to open a members only cigar lounge after working in the cigar industry for some 18 years. Mills said because of the city's smoking ban, she can no longer open up shop.

"It's like going to college and wanting to have a career and finishing your degree and not being able to set out what you want to do," said Mills. "We don't have an aquarium here, we don't have gambling facilities, yet that's where those places were outlined in this ordinance. It was just a basic copy and paste ordinance that no one looked into."

Mills was at Monday night's meeting where the smoking ban was a topic of discussion. Attorney Bennett Pugh represents Joseph Mitchum, who moved back to Sheffield to start his own cigar shop.

Mitchum bought the building and was about to start renovations when the smoking ban was passed in October. Mitchum said he was told by city council members he could still move on with his business, but that wasn't the case.

At the city council meeting, Pugh told city council members to repeal the smoking ban or pay them $50,000 because of the hardship.

"There have been expenses we have incurred and at the same time, we haven't been able to open the business, so that has had a toll on us economically," said Joseph Mitchum.

City council didn't vote Monday night on any changes to the smoking ban, but said they might do a special called meeting. They won't comment on pending litigation.

Mills told WAAY 31 she just had a meeting with Pugh and is now thinking of adding her name to the potential suit.

"It wasn't up to different people in the community, potential business owners in particular, to have their choice of what they want to do with their business," said Mills.

It's unclear when city council members will hold this special called meeting to possibly vote on the smoking ban. Pugh told council members they have 15 days or they will face a lawsuit.

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