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Group hits roadblock on tougher smoking ordinance

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It was one step forward, two steps back Tuesday in the quest for a tougher smoking ordinance in Augusta, but health advocates vowed to push on.

East Central Health District Director Ketty Gonzalez made a five-minute presentation to the Augusta Commission on the dangers of secondhand smoke in requesting a total ban on smoking in public places, only to be told afterward that the matter needs to go through the commission's committee system.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who is also a member of the Richmond County Board of Health, which is backing the increased ban, told Gonzalez she should go Monday to the Public Service Committee.

Augusta is under a statewide smoking law passed in 2005 that generally bans smoking in public places but allows exemptions for bars and restaurants that do not serve anyone younger than 18.

Since 2005, several Georgia communities have enacted stricter standards. Savannah recently joined Buena Vista and Morrow in banning smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars, according to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.

Athens-Clarke County is one of a handful of others that ban smoking in restaurants and bars, while Columbia County is among several that ban smoking from workplaces and restaurants, according to the group.

Columbia County makes an exception for outdoor dining facilities that have a roof but are open on three sides, private clubs, and military clubs and posts.

Even with the increased bans, smoking kills 443,000 people a year, including 49,000 from secondhand smoke, Gonzalez said.

Working an eight-hour shift in a smoky place could be as harmful for a nonsmoker as smoking 11/2 packs of cigarettes, she said.

"All workers deserve equal protection," Gonzalez said. "We really need it in Richmond County."

Commissioner Bill Lockett questioned whether a ban would be effective.

"We can't enforce code violations," he said. "How are we going to enforce a smoking ban?"

The model ordinance given in a packet to commissioners before the meeting allows for a fine of $50 for a smoker and fines for up to $500 for businesses that repeatedly violate the ban.

Going through committee is a pretty typical response for local governments, said Lora Scarlet Hawk, the Breathe Easy Coalition manager for the American Cancer Society, who is helping local groups push for the ban.

"The easiest way to kill this piece of legislation is to send it to committee," she said. "The committee is also the place in which the legislative process is most at work. That's where the commission will actually really study the model ordinance and decide what parts of it fit the community and what parts do not.

"This actually gives us time to meet with the commission and hopefully to make our case and answer their questions."

Gonzalez said she would be back.

"We'll keep fighting,' she said.

Comments (16) Add comment
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Riverman1
84053
Points
Riverman1 07/20/11 - 06:56 am
0
0
The smoking ban works in

The smoking ban works in Columbia County. Two bars I know of have outdoor areas for smokers that have become quite popular, adding a new dimension to the places and actually drawing new customers. Once the law goes into effect, people simply stop smoking in the restaurants and bars. The bar owners learn to like the smokeless environment and will correct anyone lighting up.

I know this is a personal rights issue with many, but I view clean water and air as being the norm. Smoking inside pollutes the common air.

Dixieman
14953
Points
Dixieman 07/20/11 - 07:54 am
0
0
Nanny state. Leave us alone!

Nanny state. Leave us alone! Freedom and liberty are most important. This is NOT what we hire politicians to do!!

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 07/20/11 - 07:57 am
0
0
Regulating legal practices

Regulating legal practices inside private business is not what we need. This would kill the bar business in RC.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 07/20/11 - 08:14 am
0
0
i'm in between. it is rough
Unpublished

i'm in between. it is rough for the workers to breathe that smoke, but i hate to see more and more rules. i have a question, what if cigarettes were all tobacco instead of ammonia and arsenic or other chemicals they put in there to manipulate addictiveness and whatever else? would the smoke be as dangerous to second handers? i like to put the regulations on the behemoths rather than the peeps. animal farmers should have standards instead of consumers having to investigate every producer before shopping. sweatshop items shouldn't be on the market. excessive polluters shouldn't be in business. hold the profiteers to a standard and leave the people alone whenever possible. tv news was better when mike wallace could smoke.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 07/20/11 - 08:18 am
0
0
Finally Bill Lockett says

Finally Bill Lockett says something intelligent.

Commissioner Bill Lockett questioned whether a ban would be effective. "We can't enforce code violations," he said. "How are we going to enforce a smoking ban?"

We would be spending a lot of law enforcement money just to get those $50 fines for individuals or $500 fines for businesses.

Come to think of it. Why not just put a question on the application for business license stating whether the business allows smoking or not. If the applicant checks "yes," just add $500 to the business license fee. The city gets the money, the business gets to operate like the owner wants, and law enforcement can do more important things than ticket people for smoking.

Riverman1
84053
Points
Riverman1 07/20/11 - 08:32 am
0
0
"Why not just put a question

"Why not just put a question on the application for business license stating whether the business allows smoking or not. If the applicant checks "yes," just add $500 to the business license fee."

LOL

TK3
562
Points
TK3 07/20/11 - 08:43 am
0
0
The RIGHT of adults to freely

The RIGHT of adults to freely associate and indulge themselves with food, drink or smoke is a right NOT a privilege or entitlement subject to the whims of politicians and government although the socialists among us have issued enough paper edicts to fill a landfill to show otherwise and they mean to use government force to assure your compliance with their will. Fight, do not let them take your freedom to choose and turn you into a ward of the State, a powerless child who must be told how to live.

"The purpose of government is to rein in the rights of the people"..~Bill Clinton

When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans ... And so a lot of people say there's too much personal freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it. That's what we did..~Bill Clinton

Brad Owens
4440
Points
Brad Owens 07/20/11 - 10:01 am
0
0
The fact is, smoking is not

The fact is, smoking is not an INDIVIDUAL issue unless you are on your OWN property, in your OWN house, or in your OWN car.

Smoking does kill people, it does cause health problems, it does cause lung cancer, and it does cause heart problems.

Polluting MY/OUR air is not YOUR right.

I support individual freedoms and all the Bill of Rights 100%, but smoking up public places with dangerous toxic fumes is not a right.

This is a public health and safety issue, not an individual rights issue, and the giverment has an obligation to protect the public.

Now, if ever they ('they' being the guvment) tries to take your right to smoke away, I will be a staunch defender and help fight it.

Just my opinion,

Brad

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 07/20/11 - 10:11 am
0
0
Brad, your opinion mirrors my

Brad, your opinion mirrors my own. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with smokers to fight for their right to smoke in THEIR space. However, I am equally motivated to fight for my right to clean air in MY space.

"It will kill the bar busines in RC" No way. Bar business is still thriving in every municipality that have enacted smoking bans in public places. I go to a little watering hole in Col Co that has a high % of smoking patrons, and when the ban was enacted that bar didn't lose any business to note. People just go outside on the covered deck.

ECDanes
1
Points
ECDanes 07/20/11 - 10:48 am
0
0
about the smoking bans

about the smoking bans killing the bar business, the evidence does not show that to be so. In California, New York City, Washington, DC and most cities where full public smoking bans (including bars) have been instituted, the vast majority of bars have shown no decrease in business and many have seen an increase. Plus there is an exemption for businesses that can prove the bans have had a significant hardship on their business. That being said though, I generally don't favor these kinds of bans. I'd prefer something like a warning label. Such as businesses that allow smoking must prominently post a sign saying such at the front entrance. That way customers can decide on their own whether they want to go in. Let the free market decide. I would think more and more businesses would then voluntarily go smoke free when they notice how much business they are losing to smoke free establishments

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 07/20/11 - 11:22 am
0
0
Piles of cigarette butts

Piles of cigarette butts smokers throw everywhere is what provided evidence to kick off this firestorm. Smokers are the only ones who can slow it down by not throwing their cigarette butts everywhere. Kids are picking up those cigarette butts, and getting addicted. The filthy piles of nasty, stenching cigarette butts piling up undo all the beauty taxpayers paid to make our city look nice. A smoker fell asleep in an apartment i rented him in N.A. and burned down a remodeled apartment building and almost killed 8 people. Home & office Insurance rates are higher to pay for all the buildings smokers burned up. Accidents & car fires caused by smoking caused car insurance to go up and killed thousands. Health care cost and the doctor shortage are exasperated by smokers hogging up health care because they destroyed themselves with their addiction. Employees cannot even do their jobs without stopping to feed their addiction holding back our economy and costing jobs. Stores are being robbed and folks are having guns poked in their face to feed the cigarette addicts addiction to cigarettes worse than crack now. Lighting up cigarettes COST EVERYBODY. We all subsidize the cigarette addicts’ addiction more than any other group of addicts. When you see a cigarette being lit they are burning up YOUR money too.

TK3
562
Points
TK3 07/20/11 - 12:52 pm
0
0
God help any official who

God help any official who were to tell the founders in a private tavern they could not smoke, drink or eat something that government thought was bad-for them. I suspect the same would happen to the poor official if the Founders were here today!

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." -- Justice Louis D. Brandeis US Supreme Court Judge

MomInRC
0
Points
MomInRC 07/20/11 - 01:53 pm
0
0
What workplaces allow smoking

What workplaces allow smoking in any place other than designated outdoor smoking sections anyway? As for the bar question, I would think anyone wanting a cigarette wouldn't mind stepping outside for a minute, as is already required at restaurants.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 07/20/11 - 03:58 pm
0
0
If the Founders had to deal

If the Founders had to deal with smokers throwing cigarettes where kids can pick them up and get hooked, smokers running up doctor bills on the colonies dime, burning down cabin after cabin and burning their best horses by throwing their cigarettes in the grass behind the barn, they would not tolerate this either.

Freedom is gained and kept ONLY by responsibility. When the irresponsible anger, addict and hand expenses along with charred corpses to the masses, the masses have responded in any age.

Remember what they did to those that ACCIDENTLY set fire to their cities of old? You wouldn't want to face the founders when justice was swift with their family members still smoldering because you had to throw a CIG BUTT. Told you guys how to solve your problem and you won’t stop throwing your cig butts everywhere, etc. Now you are paying the piper and it’s not the non smokers fault. Run to the nearest mirror and take a gander at who is AT FAULT. All these smokers’ laws are really just to get smokers to stop litter bugging every square inch of where they go. The laws to stop smoking in restaurants and bars is just a smoke screen to their real goal of cutting down on all the trash smokers throw is how we see it. If lawmakers did not have to put up with the piles of cigarette trash everywhere they go these laws would probably go away. I really don't mind smokers lighting up around me. It is the cigarette butts that are the problem and the danger. This cannot be disputed.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 07/20/11 - 04:05 pm
0
0
augusta does have mild enough
Unpublished

augusta does have mild enough weather that going outside isn't too much of a burden. do those smoke-catching machines work at all? those would be nice on the table if they do. just think, joe's underground will be inhabitable again if this goes through.

TakeAHike
186
Points
TakeAHike 07/20/11 - 05:31 pm
0
0
Smokers should keep their

Smokers should keep their stinky nasty habit in their homes and not in public spaces. Only 17.7% of Georgians smoke (2010 statistic), yet the rest of us have to deal with their nasty second hand smoke. Augusta should ban all smoking from in public spaces including bars and downtown outdoor eating areas. No exemptions! Why should 82.3% of the population have to give up sitting outside and enjoying a meal on a nice day because a group of smokers (who are either done eating or aren't even ordering any food) are at the next table over blowing smoke at them? Furthermore, asthma affects upwards of 8.2% of the US population (2009) and the heavy humid Augusta air won't allow the smoke to dissipate. Outdoor smokers can and do negatively affect nearby patrons and even passersby. I've gotten up and left when I might have ordered another drink or a dessert. We're tired of walking through a cloud of smoke from a bunch of smokers congregating on the sidewalk as we walk to/from our downtown offices. Sometimes these people loiter outside the building near the fresh air intake and I got their smoke coming into my office! I've had to deal with obscenities when asking them to leave. The don't even work near the building.
Since smokers won't self-regulate, we have to rely on our elected officials to enforce the will of the people--in this case to breath tobacco smoke free air.

Public smoking was banned over a decade ago in other communities. Get with it Augusta.

corgimom
32526
Points
corgimom 07/20/11 - 05:44 pm
0
0
The people that don't want

The people that don't want smoking banned never say "and put an exclusion on my health insurance and Medicare that says you won't pay for any illness that caused by smoking"

That's MY TAX DOLLARS that are going to pay for people that have literally made themselves sick by smoking.

People HAVE to breathe. No one HAS to smoke.

Adder
0
Points
Adder 07/21/11 - 08:16 am
0
0
How about businesses offer
Unpublished

How about businesses offer smoke-masks to their employee's like they do welders in confined areas. You don't HAVE to work in a smoking allowed establishment,after all. And as far as health care is concerned, I don't want to pay for AIDS patients either as I don't engage in a certain deathstyle. I don't want MY TAX DOLLARS spent on the end results of that behavior.

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