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Advocates, opponents argue merits of tighter Augusta smoking ban before hearing

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Proponents of a potentially tougher smoking ban in Augusta are encouraged by its close resemblance to model legislation that should make enforcement easier, but an opponent says it is a “slippery slope” that will lead to an erosion of rights.

Highlander Pub customers smoke in the North Augusta bar.  Businesses like the Highlander could lose their smoking clientle if the city council votes to ban smoking in public areas, including restaurants and bars.  STAFF/FILE
STAFF/FILE
Highlander Pub customers smoke in the North Augusta bar. Businesses like the Highlander could lose their smoking clientle if the city council votes to ban smoking in public areas, including restaurants and bars.

A public hearing on the draft ordinance will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Augusta Commission Chambers. Another will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 17 at Julian Smith Casino.

Augusta is currently operating under state law that bans smoking in most public places but includes some exemptions, such as bars and restaurants that do not admit anyone under age 18. The draft ordinance is nearly identical to the model legislation proposed by smoke-free advocates and bans smoking in virtually every public space, including bars, playgrounds, outdoor construction sites and ATM lines. Advocates say that it is important to include all of these places.

“Really, it is the exemptions that make ordinances like these more challenging for enforcement so, the stronger the ordinance, the more comprehensive it is, the easier it is to enforce,” said Lora Scarlet Hawk, the Breathe Easy Coalition Manager for the American Cancer Society, which is helping push the tougher standards.

Under the draft ordinance, the city administrator or his designee and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office would enforce the ban.

While some might say second-hand smoke in an outdoor setting such as a playground is harmless, that is not the case, said Sadie Stockton, the chronic disease prevention/health promotion program coordinator for East Central Health District.

“Especially if you have an asthmatic child or a child with respiratory problems because second-hand smoke is a trigger factor for asthma,” she said.

Opponents say the ban is an overreach by the government.

“Legislated smoking bans of any kind take away the rights of individuals and business owners to make their own decisions,” said Tony Tortorici, a spokesman for the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. “And that’s important because you start down that slippery slope, and it isn’t long before more complicated issues develop – other rights being taken away from individuals.”

He said “study after study” shows an economic harm from smoking bans, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited a number of advantages for smoke-free businesses, from lower insurance and maintenance costs to increased productivity. Tortorici implied the CDC was biased.

“Everybody is biased,” he said. “Everybody has an agenda. Our agenda is freedom of choice.”

Hawk said she can sympathize with businesses that have to adjust to meet new requirements. But businesses already have to comply with regulations to ensure better public health, such as serving or storing food at certain temperatures. A smoking ban extends that to not just patrons, but the employees of those places where they might currently face hours of smoke per shift.

“And that’s harmful for them,” Hawk said. “I’m just trying to provide all workers with the aspect of being able to have a smoke-free environment. It’s something I get to enjoy in my work environment. I hope to provide that for everybody.”

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Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 10/10/11 - 12:46 am
0
0
“Legislated smoking bans of

“Legislated smoking bans of any kind take away the rights of individuals and business owners to make their own decisions,” said Tony Tortorici, a spokesman for the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. “And that’s important because you start down that slippery slope, and it isn’t long before more complicated issues develop – other rights being taken away from individuals.”

I despise tobacco smoke with a passion unequaled by most, but this comment hits it dead center. Private business owners should be able to call their own shots, period. The only thing people like me DEMAND of them, is truth in advertising. If they have a no smoking section, I don't want to smell a filthy cigarette. If they allow smoking everywhere, then fine, let me know in advance and I will take my business elsewhere. Isn't that easy enough?

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 10/10/11 - 01:40 am
0
0
Wonder what OSHA has to say

Wonder what OSHA has to say about smoke-filled workplaces?

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 10/10/11 - 02:19 am
0
0
I don't smoke, and was often

I don't smoke, and was often bothered by smoke in eating places, but I often thought that a good strong outside-vented exhaust fan would suck the smoke up and away so we could break bread together in peace.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 10/10/11 - 02:52 am
0
0
How about a link to the full

How about a link to the full draft ordinance? I'm having a heck of a time finding it. Any help AC?

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 10/10/11 - 02:56 am
0
0
OK, finally found

OK, finally found it:http://www.augustaga.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=3274

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 10/10/11 - 03:07 am
0
0
From draft:Smoking shall be

From draft:Smoking shall be prohibited in all private clubs.
All hotel and motel rooms that are rented to guests.
In addition to the fines established by this Section, violation of this Article by a person who owns, manages, operates, or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment may result in the suspension or revocation of any permit or license issued to the person for the premises on which the violation occurred.
Each day on which a violation of this Article occurs shall be considered a separate and distinct violation. ( In other words, if a business's ashtray is too close, they can get hit with $100 fine for first offense, $200 for second, and $500 for all there after. Pesky competitor? Keep sliding his ashtray closer to the door and he could get fined $181,800 in one year).

Bear - Lillian Smith
65
Points
Bear - Lillian Smith 10/10/11 - 06:37 am
0
0
I agree 100% in banning

I agree 100% in banning “anything” that potentially infringes on “individual rights” in “public places” that are tax payer supported.
However, bar and restaurants are “privately owned” and the public has a “choice” to frequent those establishments or not.
And contrary to what some hard core anti-smoking advocates would have you believe, frequenting “privately owned established” is NOT a RIGHT! They are privately owned and you knowingly assume the risks as a choice.
Similar premise, different substance; according to nhtsa.gov 39% of all traffic deaths are alcohol related, and over an estimated 1.4 million p/year drive our highway impaired. BUT, you can’t see them coming….avoiding that risk is not a “choice”!!!
So it’s clearly hypocritical when many of the very same governing authorities who wave the smoking ban flags in “privately owned establishments” wouldn’t dream of being a flag bearer for banning alcohol consumption in public venues. Many of the same leave these meetings feeling smug in their political correctness only to re-adjourn at the local pub for cocktails.
From smoking to seatbelts, helmets to hamburgers, it’s government intrusion in private life.
Remember, when you rally the troops to fight against personal freedom, you run the risk it will come back to bite you. To all the hypocrites who wave their flags to ban legal substances in privately owned establishments, THINK about this every afternoon during your happy hour!

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 10/10/11 - 06:44 am
0
0
Just a few words from
Unpublished

Just a few words from yester-years. "first they came for the communists, and I didn't speak up, then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up, then they came for the Trade Unionists and I didn't speak up, and finally they came for me and there was no one left to speak against them. Just what is going to be next? P.S. the black scum on my swimming pool water isn't second-hand smoke, rather it is a by-product of our chemical factories in the area spewing trash into the air. Now if Ms. Hawk was trully interested in childrens health, when is she going to demand the closure of these facilities or their relocation to areas away from children? Or is it these type facilities fund her cause?

david jennings
571
Points
david jennings 10/10/11 - 07:39 am
0
0
I agree with b lillian. I

I agree with b lillian. I have never smoked and it is offensive.It is a nasty habit and when I see someone with both cheeks sucked in pulling on a cigarette, I think to myself, how foolish it looks. Still I never complain when in the company of smokers,if it becomes too uncomfortable I just quietly move away.I perfer the freedom to choose for myself if I want to visit a privately owned esablishment.Now taxpayer supported places,I agree should be smoke free.

Riverman1
81426
Points
Riverman1 10/10/11 - 08:00 am
0
0
Why I'm for banning smoking

Why I'm for banning smoking in public places is because it's the common air being affected. The argument it's a private establishment doesn't work with me because we all breathe the air and that floats in and out of private establishments. They don't own it. I'm against anyone messing up the air or water in any fashion.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 10/10/11 - 09:31 am
0
0
Draconian smoking bans are

Draconian smoking bans are good bi-partisan politics; puritan control freaks that want to “save people from themselves” can be found in abundance in both political parties.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/10/11 - 10:39 am
0
0
Smokers just don't get it,

Smokers just don't get it, they stink! It sticks to their clothes, hair and skin and they get it on us. We don't like it and have a difficult time breathing. Never dated anyone who smoked and certainly wouldn't have married one. Perfume wearers stink too, add them to the ban.

Direct enough, bj, or should you fix it for me?

Riverman1
81426
Points
Riverman1 10/10/11 - 10:40 am
0
0
Where's the Highlander Bar

Where's the Highlander Bar located? I may want to check it out.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 10/10/11 - 10:52 am
0
0
Willow Bailey: “Direct

Willow Bailey: “Direct enough, bj, or should you fix it for me?”

That would be a non sequitur since I never stated anything about directness or fixing anything for anybody. I gave a person non-specific description of the psychological motivating factors in the antismoker movement.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/10/11 - 11:14 am
0
0
bj, you fixed my other post,

bj, you fixed my other post, don't you remember? You told me that I was slipping. I'll take all the help I can get:)

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 10/10/11 - 11:20 am
0
0
Willow Bailey, thank you for

Willow Bailey, thank you for adding a data point affirming the hypotheses of the Shor, Shor, and Williams paper on this subject.

“THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE ANTISMOKING AND NONSMOKERS' RIGHTS MOVEMENTS”

“SUMMARY

In a recent article Markle and Troyer analyze the cigarette controversy as a status battle between pro and antismoking vested interests. They argue that the purpose of the antismoking movement is to lower the status of smokers, symbolically to label smoking as undesirable, unacceptable, and socially deviant behavior, and, hence, to stigmatize and denigrate smokers as social misfits.”

“A. INTRODUCTION

In a recent article Markle and Troyer provide a sociology of deviance interpretation of the long-standing, but recently intensified controversy over cigarette smoking. Markle and Troyer point out that in the late 1960s and the 1970s a variety of laws and regulations were implemented to regulate smoking and the smoker. Drawing an analogy to Gusfield's analysis of the American temperance movement, the authors argue that these strictures were initially assimilative--in the sense of sympathetically trying to aid the repentant smoker to give up his harmful and deviant behavior--but more recently have become coercive--in the sense of angrily engaging the unrepentant smoker as an enemy in a political and legal battle.”

http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst?docId=77539715

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/10/11 - 12:15 pm
0
0
bj, I take it you are a

bj, I take it you are a smoker. The article is hogwash. If smokers were not polluting the same air that I breathe, or destroying property with their fallen ashes, I wouldn't have a problem with it; they could puff away all they wanted. It's simple for me, it stinks, it's nasty and destructive. That said, I have no desire to battle with them, only to keep my distance. I will confess, I can get quite snotty on this topic.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 10/10/11 - 12:35 pm
0
0
Willow Bailey: “bj, I take it

Willow Bailey: “bj, I take it you are a smoker.”

No, not a smoker, follower of John Stuart Mill:

“Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”

I recognize a camouflaged temperance movement when I see it. The camouflage is the nonsmoker’s rights to avoid air with some concentration of smoke products in some ppm but it becomes pretty transparent that it’s an antismoker movement when that ppm goes to zero.

As one of my old German physics professors used to say:

"Who’s fooling who here?”

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/10/11 - 12:51 pm
0
0
If you hate something, bj,

If you hate something, bj, you just do. Don't hate the person, but I do hate the thing. If all drinkers puked on me, I wouldn't want to be around them either. It's a matter of respecting myself. With clean air we both breathe, with polluted air only you breathe. Why should one's freedom to stink, infringe on mine to breathe. Go stink somewhere with fellow stinkers, they will embrace you.

Who's fooling...the one's trying to convince us smoking isn't obnoxious to non smokers, it's just our prejudice and small mindedness.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 10/10/11 - 01:08 pm
0
0
Willow Bailey: “…it's just

Willow Bailey: “…it's just our prejudice and small mindedness.”

Never truer puritan words were written.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/10/11 - 01:08 pm
0
0
Bj, a quote from your

Bj, a quote from your favorite philosopher, Mr. John Stuart Mills... "political philosophy should be guided by what is good for society as a whole."

Tell me you are not going to try to blow smoke on us and tell us it is best for all of society.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/10/11 - 01:10 pm
0
0
There's no shame in purity,

There's no shame in purity, bj. You'll have to do better, baby.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 10/10/11 - 01:33 pm
0
0
Craig Spinks Monday, Oct. 10

Craig Spinks
Monday, Oct. 10 1:40 AM

"Wonder what OSHA has to say about smoke-filled workplaces?"

I imagine that can be satisfied with appropriate ventilation/filtration. Those devices, while removing impurities from the air, NO NOT remove the stench.

generalsn
0
Points
generalsn 10/10/11 - 01:40 pm
0
0
It's the "model smoking ban

It's the "model smoking ban for dummies" that has been used in locations through out the nation. It's linked on page ten of the ban lobbyists instruction book. Just fill in the blanks. Here's the book; --- www.no-smoke.org/pdf/CIA_Fundamentals.pdf

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 10/10/11 - 01:59 pm
0
0
Willow, how would you

Willow, how would you preserve yours and my right to breathe clean air, and still protect the private property rights of business owners and individuals? I am a former smoker, so am the worst kind of anti-smoking zealot. I despise the stink with a passion, but at the same time respect the rights of people to engage in a legal activity on private property. I have no problem at all with vigorously policing litter laws and no smoking zones to force the slobs to straighten up, but as a conservative/libertarian type, I must be wary of people using government power to get their way.

I would like to add, as much as I dislike government intrusion; one of the proper functions of government IMO is to ensure safety of consumer products. I think most people will agree that "caveat emptor" is an unreasonable standard to apply to food, drink, durable goods (like lead painted goods from Asia), etc. In that vein, I would have no issue with the FDA regulating chemical content of tobacco products. Take out the addictive substances and 90% of the addicts will quit smoking.

shrimp for breakfast
5422
Points
shrimp for breakfast 10/10/11 - 02:16 pm
0
0
A smoking section in a bar or

A smoking section in a bar or restaurant is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/10/11 - 02:24 pm
0
0
Vito, I can appreciate the

Vito, I can appreciate the perspective that you are bringing regarding so much government regulation and the issue at stake of civil liberties.

If people behaved with common courtesy and consideration for others, we would have never come to this point in the first place. Polite society is disappearing. The vast majority no longer cares what selfish, obnoxious, smelly and even unsafe or unhealthy behaviors they put upon the rest of us.

I do have sympathy for business owners as they are probably the most important players in this debate. They are for profit and I agree they want to appeal to the greatest number of dollars that they can garner into their estabs. So the question becomes, have they lost business as a result of the local bans? It sure doesn’t look like it. And should those bans be lifted, what will be the dollar results of that decision. I can tell you that trying to be both smoking and nonsmoking anything, doesn't work. Seating me in a non smoking booth, while others smoke around me, is going to send me out of there, never again to return. Like you, should business be allowed to lift the ban, I will patronize those who remain smoke free.

Smoking, unlike rudely screaming over a cell phone, is a health/safety hazard to others no matter how one tries to argue it. And it’s not just restaurants that are affected. Hotels/Motels, theaters, and planes, etc. no way. It inhibits breathing and is a fire hazard. And don't you just love that smoker's cough all over you?

As to personal rights, why should their right to pollute supersede our right to breathe? They can go outside and smoke away from the entrances, please.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 10/10/11 - 02:25 pm
0
0
Good one, Shrimp!

Good one, Shrimp!

harley_52
22820
Points
harley_52 10/10/11 - 02:29 pm
0
0
Not really, shrimp. People

Not really, shrimp.

People don't smoke in the non-smoking section without being noticed.

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 10/10/11 - 02:39 pm
0
0
Willow, I agree with

Willow, I agree with everything you say, I just can't get past the "private property rights" part. For that matter, I think most businesses welcome the regulations; it gives them an out to have non smoking facilities without giving an advantage to the guy across the street who would attract the smoking clientele. I think the only places who see any significant loss in business are those bars/restaurants who border a municipal line where smoking is allowed on the other side. People will drive an extra couple of miles to feed the addiction, but they won't drive 20.
The big advantage to restaurateurs is that smokers linger over coffee and what not, tying up a table that could have the next set of paying customers.
As for SFB's comment, it is 98.9% correct too. I don't recall ever being in a restaurant where smoking was allowed, that I didn't smell it. However, I will give them the benefit of the other 1.1% that they can successfully segregate the two. If they can, I'm all in; if they can't, my business goes down the road.

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