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Augusta will work on new smoking law

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 4:52 PM
Last updated Wednesday, May 7, 2014 2:34 PM
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The Augusta Commission voted Tuesday to hold a work session on a potentially tougher smoking ordinance, but supporters got good news when one of the commissioners who opposed a previous effort said she would like to “broaden” the current law.

Dr. Selina Smith, the director of the Georgia Regents University Institute of Public and Preventive Health, speaks to the Augusta Commission regarding a proposed anti-smoking ordinance.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Dr. Selina Smith, the director of the Georgia Regents University Institute of Public and Preventive Health, speaks to the Augusta Commission regarding a proposed anti-smoking ordinance.

For the third time in the last three years, supporters of a smokefree workplace law approached the commission about passing it. Augusta is under a statewide law that bans smoking in places like restaurants where there could be children, but allows it in places that don’t admit anyone under age 18, which includes bars. The proposed ordinances would have banned smoking in all public places.

This time, Healthy Augusta, a coalition of 25 community groups, is backing the effort, said Dr. Selina Smith, the director of the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Regents University and a facilitator of Healthy Augusta.

Previous efforts had been portrayed by opponents as motivated by outside groups opposed to smoking, but Smith said that is not the case. As a seven-month resident herself, “I am concerned about smoking in all public places,” she said.

Commissioner Mary Davis, one of six who voted against the last proposed ordinance, said she has looked at similar laws in Chatham, Clarke and Columbia counties and thought Augusta needed more discussion on what it wanted. That last time, the proposed ordinance “was an all or nothing ordinance,” she said. That said, “we definitely need to broaden the smoking ordinance we currently have,” Davis said.

That was encouraging to Jennifer Anderson, chair of BreathEasy Coalition that pushed for the last two tougher ordinances, as was the response from Healthy Augusta and all of its members.

“The community is behind it,” she said.

Commissioner Bill Lockett, a supporter of a tougher ordinance, said Augusta is known for its medical complex but “we’re not healthy. Other cities have done this. Why can’t we do it?”

While acknowledging individuals have the right to smoke, the country also has laws to ensure public health, such as providing clean water and requiring people to wear seatbelts, Smith said.

“If smoking cigarettes only impacted the smoker, I think it would be a different story,” she said. “It still causes detriment to the person sitting next to you.”

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sjsypien 05/06/14 - 06:15 pm
Blatant discrimination against smokers.

If anyone else in this country were discriminated against the way smokers have been, there would be riots. Taxation without representation by government and civil liberties being taken away by all levels of government. All being pushed either by non-smokers, or reformed smokers. Restraint is not a word these people know. Look up discrimination in the dictionary. While government can place smoking restrictions on government facilities, they have no right to push their rules on private business owners. Let this kind of discrimination be pushed on them and see how they like it. Smoking is not the only thing out there that can kill you.....have you seen the way people drive around here?

Dixieman 05/06/14 - 06:58 pm
Go away

If you don't want to smoke, don't smoke.
Leave the rest of us alone!
(I am not a smoker - quit after many decades - but I don't like intrusion on people's rights).

oldredneckman96 05/06/14 - 07:33 pm
Rights? Discrimination?

The rights of people to not be poisoned and the discrimination against those of us who do not want to be poisoned needs to be considered. Let people vote on this! Ban the use of tobacco in public. The science is there to support a ban, the people want it, what else do we need?

Gage Creed
Gage Creed 05/06/14 - 08:53 pm
"As a seven-month resident

"As a seven-month resident herself, “I am concerned about smoking in all public places,” she said." Really... REALLY?

The role of Healthy Augusta will be played by Stewie...

itsanotherday1 05/06/14 - 10:56 pm
What Dixieman said!

What Dixieman said!

Navy Gary
Navy Gary 05/07/14 - 12:41 am
Where's the freedom?

Where's the freedom? City "officials" need to focus on city business and leave peoples' individual rights alone. If you don't want people smoking in a particular area of the city, put up a freaking sign. How about a law saying: NO MORE LAWS!

GnipGnop 05/07/14 - 03:24 am
i just wish...

Augusta politicians would take up as much time thinking through SPLOST as they do on smoking ordinances.

nocnoc 05/07/14 - 07:38 am
Deposit 10,000 points into Dixieman account

" I don't like intrusion on people's rights"


nocnoc 05/07/14 - 07:42 am
The bogus list of chemicals

The bogus list of chemicals produced by tap water vapor should have been the Eye Opener.

It took some digging but the likely reason there was no percentages next to the chemicals listed was many of the SCARE TACTIC Listed Chemicals are in your every day DRINKING WATER.

YES E-Cigs are are unhealthy as our Tap Drinking Water.

You'll have to read between the lines using the EPA data.
But look at the accept levels of contaminants and compare the lists.

Then you'll understand how they abused and misrepresented the info, to mislead the public.

So there you have it.
E-Cigs are are unhealthy as our Tap Drinking Water.

leebraxjr 05/07/14 - 08:22 am
25 groups Really?

I dare say there is a real issue that needs to be addressed here. The commission can not agree on simple stuff but they all come together when civil liberties are weighed in on. The era of Cigarette prohibition needs to end.
The thought of out of sight out of mind has really taken a turn when you have power plants, road construction and other environmental hazards laid to the side as not important, but you attack cigarettes because you can see it, and smell it.
Wake up people Please!

seenitB4 05/07/14 - 10:01 am
Is smoking still legal?

If you would spend just 1/2 the time on the splost problem as you do the smoking problem....Augusta could come out of the boonies....dang--what a waste of manpower.
People will smoke & drink----you can't stop it.

Airman 05/07/14 - 02:22 pm
Local Govt

As a non smoker I feel for smokers, local governments are slashing away at our rights just like the Fed. I dont like the smell of diesel fuel, so I either dont drive or deal with it. It is harmful is it not. I dont like the smell of too much perfume( you know the people that use it in lieu of a shower) so I walk away from those people and stay out of the cosmetic section. I dont like to smell a fart in the elevator, or anywhere for that matter but no laws are being made unless its a cow fart. If I go in a place of business and it caters to smokers I survive and just dont go back, I still have that freedom dont I. Smokers I feel for you because nicotine is a terrible addiction, been there. I think there should be a class action lawsuit for taxation without representation. Tabacco is one of the highest taxed item in the USA and our government have the bawls to impede your freedom that you are taxed heavily for.

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