Get ready for round two in the fight to pass a tougher smoking ordinance for Augusta.
Health advocates have scheduled a news conference for 11:30 a.m. Thursday to respond to the Augusta Commission’s rejection of a stricter ordinance last month and to announce an education plan on the dangers of secondhand smoke.
“We’re going to share some of the culpability in that decision by taking notice that maybe we didn’t do a good enough job to educate and make the community aware of the adverse effects of second-hand smoke,” said Eric Bailey, the Georgia grass-roots advocacy director of the American Cancer Society.
Georgia law bans smoking in most public places where there could be children, such as most restaurants, but allows it in bars and places that do not admit anyone younger than 18.
The stricter ordinance, pushed by the Richmond County Board of Health and a coalition of health advocates, would have banned smoking in all public places, at outdoor work sites and in vehicles with children 14 and younger. Advocates have said it is necessary to offer a smoke-free workplace to employees of places where smoking is permitted.
Commissioner Corey Johnson, who had pushed the ordinance, will be one of the speakers appearing with the Breatheasy Augusta Coalition, along with health board member Jack Padgett.
Bailey said he wouldn’t characterize the ordinance as a political issue for the upcoming commission races.
“However, we would like for the commissioners to know, whether they are new incoming members or tenured members, that this will be an issue that they are going to have to take up,” he said. “This issue is not going away.”