Columbia County extends smoking ban



The Columbia County Board of Commissioners approved a revision to an anti-smoking ordinance Tuesday that now bans lighting up a cigarette, even outdoors, on most county-owned properties.

The revision received initial approval earlier this month on a first reading, but two commission votes are required to change or approve county ordinances.

At that June 7 meeting, some in attendance called the revision a government infringement on personal liberties. Still, it passed 4-1, with Commissioner Charles Allen providing the dissenting vote.

No one protested the revision's final reading on Tuesday, but Allen still was the sole commissioner to vote against the change.

Commission Chairman Ron Cross has called the matter a public safety issue and said government has a responsibility to protect its citizens.

The updated ordinance, which took immediate effect, prohibits smoking on most county properties. However, it allows for exclusions at Wildwood Park, fire stations and a designated area at the county detention center.

Though the commission condemned the use of nicotine, it condoned the consumption of caffeine.

Also at the Tuesday meeting, commissioners approved a $22,000 contract to provide coffee to 34 county departments.

The new contract with Evans-based Job Java LLC is a 15 percent increase over previous years and reflects the rising costs of commodities.

Currently, Job Java provides county employees with 8 ounce cups, and Colombian, house blend and decaffeinated coffees.

Last year, according to county figures, government departments and the sheriff's office combined to consume 424 cases of coffee.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115,