ATLANTA — A new proposal by Atlanta city council members would make all of Atlanta a smoke-free environment if it were passed.
The legislation, proposed by Councilmembers Matt Westmoreland and Andre Dickens, would ban smoking in all public spaces, including restaurants, bars, hotels and city facilities. It would also eliminate smoking at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and update the definition of smoking to include E-cigarettes. It would not ban smoking at businesses where tobacco sales make up the majority of their sales, such as Hookah lounges and cigar bars.
City officials argue that Metro-Atlanta is the largest metropolitan area that is not smoke-free, and that smoking bans actually don't harm business at restaurants and bars. Add to that, the city is also home to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society, both of which have warned of the dangers of second-hand smoke.
“I think everyone in Atlanta has the right to breathe smoke-free air," Westmoreland told the Atlanta Business Chronicle. "We are literally the last major city in the United States to not have this type of rule in place.”
Violators of the smoke-free laws would be subject to a $100 fine for the first violation, then up to a $200 fine for any violation after that.
Georgia already has smoke-free laws on the books, chiefly the Smokefree Air Act of 2005. Westmoreland said the proposed smoke-free laws for Atlanta are the next logical step.
“This is about saving lives,” Westmoreland said.
Councilmembers assured that adults will still be allowed to smoke in the privacy of their homes or cars, so long as they are not care facilities.
The new legislation, if passed, would go into effect Sep. 1, 2019.