Norcross repeals city wide smoking ban
Jul 02, 2012
NORCROSS, GA (CBS ATLANTA) –
The city of Norcross’ smoking ban was met with harsh criticism at Monday night’s council meeting – people worried the government might have gone too far banning all tobacco use city wide, and they gave the council an earful.
The ban was supposed to go into effect Monday and it wasn’t just tobacco either – dip and chew was also to be banned. But instead the council voted unanimously to rescind the entire ordinance.
“I just think, what’s next?” said Norcross resident Sara Leavy during the public comment session. “What rights are you all going to take away from people here next?”
One by one, they gave the council an earful over the new city-wide smoking ban which was supposed to have gone into effect July 2.
“We have a passion about peoples’ right to decide and there’s an issue here that puts it in the ball park of certain cities out there that restricts buying a slurpee,” J.P. Meyer said.
In February, council members passed a new ordinance banning smoking in Norcross, meaning no smoking on sidewalks downtown, at city hall and even public parks.
Some people told CBS Atlanta News that the ban was a great idea.
“Why would you want smoke around any child?” asked park goer Brett Smith. “I think it’s fantastic.”
But not everybody thinks the ordinance was fair to everyone.
“If you want to ban it, at least make a section for people who do like to come to the park and enjoy themselves,” Bernard Johnson countered.
At Monday’s city council meeting, not one person stood up in favor of the new legislation.
“It’s a far over reach and it makes people worry, what will be next?” Keith Shubert asked. “Will it be what kind of food will you serve?”
In a unanimous vote, the Norcross City Council repealed the new ordinance, immediately lifting the city-wide ban on tobacco.
“The business owners felt it was too onerous,” explained the Norcross Downtown Development Authority Chairman, Pat Eidt. “They had several people say they wouldn’t come back.”
Council member Ross Kaul told CBS Atlanta News he might consider revisiting a more focused ban on tobacco, but he said he’s going to just leave it alone for now.
Norcross bans smoking in public spaces
By Joel Anderson, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
May 8, 2012
Larry Leamon had a cigar in one hand and a leash for his flat-coated retriever in another while taking a stroll Monday night through the streets of downtown Norcross.
He comes here regularly to enjoy the dinner-hour bustle and to watch the train pass through about 9 p.m. But starting next month, Leamon will have to leave the cigar at home.
The Norcross City Council Monday approved a ban of the use of all tobacco products on or near city property, including parks, sidewalks, recreational fields and city buildings, among other places. The ban would includes smokeless tobacco.
The new ordinance would mean the end of designated smoking areas for city employees and the removal of ashtrays on city sidewalks.
City Manager Rudolph Smith said the law won’t go into effect for another month, giving residents and visitors a chance to get informed about the new restrictions.
“It allows us time to make sure that we get signage up in areas,” Smith said. “We’re going to let people know in advance … that this is going to be the protocol.”
According to the law , the minimum fine is $50. The fine for subsequent offenses will double up to a maximum of $800. City employees who violate the ordinance could face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
The only council member to vote against the ban was David McElroy, who argued the ordinance wasn’t necessary and could cause problems for local restaurants and businesses that serve smokers. McElroy also argued against using more city money on attorney’s fees to create such ordinances.
“I really think it could take some of the business out of town,” said McElroy, who said he isn’t a smoker. “I just don’t think we have a need for this.”
Councilman Ross Kaul, who sponsored the law, said he was concerned about the dangers of second-hand smoke and wanted to create a safe and healthy environment in public spaces for non-smokers.
For visitors like Leamon, news of the ordinance was a surprise. Leamon said he understands the argument for limiting smoking in public places but thinks that cities are going too far with the bans.
“I’ve always felt people who smoke have been relegated to the most demeaning places,” he said. “I think this is overstepping by the city.”