Smoke-free advocates, opponents air opinions at hearing on proposed Augusta ordinance

Ordinance would add to current restrictions

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Jennifer Losgar was working at a bar in Augusta to help pay bills and put herself through school when she found one night that she could not breathe. She had developed reactive airway disease and lost 25 percent of her lung capacity, and so had to find another job. That is why she showed up Thursday at a public hearing in support of a stronger smoke-free ordinance for Augusta.

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Robert Elliott, of Augusta, speaks against passing a smoke-free ordinance in Augusta that would ban smoking in all public places.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Robert Elliott, of Augusta, speaks against passing a smoke-free ordinance in Augusta that would ban smoking in all public places.

“Some people don’t have a choice in where they can work, especially in this economy,” Losgar said.

Many of the 50 or so people at the hearing in the Augusta Commission chambers were wearing stickers in support of the ordinance. Opponents said the ordinance takes rights from business owners and smokers and would kill the bar business.

Smoking “may not be right but it is still legal,” said Taylor Bryant, of the Libertarian Party of the CSRA. “When you start taking choices from people, you start taking freedom from people.”

R.W. McClellan, the owner of Club Barcelona in south Augusta, said that eight bars have already failed in his area and that more will follow if the ordinance is passed, which will hurt wholesale suppliers.

“This starts a domino effect that will affect a lot more than bars, as well as the county revenue,” he said.

Smoke-free laws have a tangible benefit for health, said Sarah Balog, the government relations director for the American Heart Association’s Greater Southeast Affiliate. A 2009 study in the journal Circulation found that heart attacks declined by 15 percent in areas that passed smoke-free laws after the first year and by 36 percent after three years.

“Passing smoke-free laws in all workplaces and in public places is something we can do to protect the public,” Balog said.

State law already prohibits smoking in most public places but allows exemptions, such as for bars and restaurants that do not serve anyone younger than 18. The proposal would ban smoking in all public places and outdoor areas such as playgrounds, outdoor employment areas such as construction sites, and ATM lines.

“It really guarantees the right for all workers to breathe clean air in the workplace,” said Jack Padgett, a member of the Richmond County Board of Education and the Richmond County Board of Health.

Amy Hughes, of Healthy Savannah, heard many of the same arguments against Savannah’s comprehensive smoke-free ordinance before it was passed last year, including that it would hurt business and tourism.

“I’m here to tell you today that those fears did not come true,” she said.

PUBLIC HEARING

There will be another public hearing on the proposed comprehensive smoke-free law for Augusta at 6 p.m. Monday at Julian Smith Casino, 2200 Broad St.

Comments (51) Add comment
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GaStang22
910
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GaStang22 10/14/11 - 01:22 pm
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You are 100% correct A Little
Unpublished

You are 100% correct A Little Sanity! Welcome to the USSA!!!!

allhans
24885
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allhans 10/14/11 - 02:15 pm
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Sounds like a good time for a

Sounds like a good time for a smart bar owner to add on an outside bar, a deck or a patio.
I love to sit on a deck and smoke and drink with a fire in a chimera - welll, I would if I smoked or drank.

socks99
250
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socks99 10/14/11 - 02:43 pm
0
1
"Jennifer Losgar was working

"Jennifer Losgar was working at a bar in Augusta to help pay bills and put herself through school when she found one night that she could not breathe. She had developed reactive airway disease and lost 25 percent of her lung capacity, and so had to find another job. That is why she showed up Thursday at a public hearing in support of a stronger smoke-free ordinance for Augusta."

1. Did she develop 'restrictive airway' disease during the time she worked in the bar? (That would be something of a 'miracle' causality considering that even smokers take years to develop chronic health problems.)
2. If this is an Augusta bar, why not name it and have the owner corroborate the story?
3. Did she have this condition BEFORE you began working in the bar? If so, why did she choose to work there?
4. Does she have medical records -- dated prior to this smoking ban proposal -- that indicate that she has diminished lung capacity and that it was CAUSED by exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke?

Corwin's inclusion of this 'evidence' smells a lot like the phony baloney arguments and 'data' the banners present, usually at the last moment.

But prove me wrong! Let Ms. Losgar cough-up 'proof' of her claims, or I, at least, will continue to think its one more lie in a long line of such lies.

Vito45
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Vito45 10/14/11 - 03:18 pm
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Casimir, I would only have

Casimir, I would only have your solution to be a voluntary measure. If a business advertises having segregated areas, then they jolly well better ensure it happens. Otherwise, just post on the door whether it is a smoking or non-smoking establishment so I don't have to walk in and walk out with the smell clinging to me. (yes, no longer than it takes to buy a soda in a convenience store, the stink is in your hair and on your clothes)

Ga Stang, I think I know the establishment to which you refer, and yes, ColCo's ordinance did hurt him some because people just went down the street to Richmond Co where they could smoke and shoot pool. Funny thing though, he opened a second bar and grill out in S. Augusta and it was non smoking from the get go.
I don't know if they still do, but the Rhinehardts on Wash Rd started out with the "no one under 18 after xxPM, and smoking allowed at that time. I suppose it worked OK for them. Are they still doing it that way? I don't know since I don't patronize smoking establishments.

Another interesting anecdote is; I travel to Indianapolis a few times a year and there is this little bar and grill in a strip mall close to the hotel I use. I've been there a few times and just sucked it up with the smoking because it is walking distance to my hotel and if I want a couple of beers I don't want to drive. The last time I was out there, I decided to go over, get a sandwich, tilt a couple and watch a game just to pass the evening time. Lo and behold, they had gone non-smoking. I asked the server if they had passed an ordinance and she said "no, business was getting slower and slower and the owner felt if we were non-smoking more people would come in." She said business was way up and everybody, particularly the non smoking staff, were very happy.

GaStang22
910
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GaStang22 10/14/11 - 04:46 pm
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Yes, you are thinking of the
Unpublished

Yes, you are thinking of the same one. lol I know of at least a dozen people who were quite regular who quit going. And we all will drive all the way downtown, so it does cost them some business, not just if a smoking one happens to be close by. We used to drive to north augusta to smoke in waffle house from grovetown even though there are 500 closer in GA. lol But the owner of the one we were speaking about may not mind because he/she may be a non smoker and may not like it, has enough money so the loss doesn't affect him, or likes catering to teens and kids as a family establishment and thats why they opened one in RC as non smoking.

I hate that CC doesnt give the owner the option to be over 18 only. At least RC does, and like I said, it went from grown people with money leaving or having to wait hours on a pool table because most tables were occupied by groups of 6 kids pooling their money together to play on the table all night for cheap entertainment and only buy a couple of sodas to split over the entire evening and never tipping to all tables being open for adults spending lots of money on food and drinks and tipping the girls to help them earn a decent living. But that is the whole point, it should be up to a business owner as how he chooses to run his establishment. I'm glad your fav spot in Indy went smoke free for you and that they are doing good, but that was the owners choice and no one forced him and it was your choice to go or not, and as an adult you made your choice to go or not to go and that is exactly the way it should be. So I think thats reasonable as you suggested to put on signs and advertisements a place allows smoking to avoid, like you said, even a whiff of smell, or wasted time and gas only to find out when you get there. =)

GaStang22
910
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GaStang22 10/14/11 - 05:17 pm
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0
There has to be some
Unpublished

There has to be some compromise. I don't get why the current restrictions that allow adults to decide for themselves where to patronize isn't good enough!!! NONE of these places are necessities with no other options for non smokers. I want to know if this board of advocates for this ban will include places that have other unhealthy fumes other than cigarette smoke, like places that burn incense, will they include exhaust inspections for vehicles with fines and or jail time for making others have to breath it at a red light or stuck in traffic? If not they are nothing more than hypocrites who have a selfish personal preference agenda pretending to care out their fellow citizens. They haven't given one decent argument to start with on why they need a 100% ban focusing all the time and energy on free will while so many other things are hurting and killing innocent people daily and they never say a word about those. Personal selfish agenda, every one of them! As I said, NONE of these places are necessities with no other options!! Plain ridiculous!!

MichaelJMcFadden
-2
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MichaelJMcFadden 10/18/11 - 10:07 am
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Brad, you said, "The

Brad, you said, "The difference is that when you drink likker there is no way the act of drinking can harm me," Brad, please see my last posting on the more recent thread at,

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/government/2011-10-17/smoking-ban-advo...

Vito, you wrote, "People won't quit going to bars because they can't smoke, unless there is a bar close enough by that DOES allow smoking." and I extend the same invitation to you. You'll note there how the ban in the UK over the space of several years increased pub closures from about 3 a week up to a rate of 52 per week. Somehow I doubt all those missing pub-goers were hopping several flights a week to Spain to do their drinking.

- MJM

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