People Ban: GA Richmond County

Georgia Richmond County Update…

Cigar Retailers Counter Richmond County Endorsement of Proposed Extension of State Smoking Ban
PRWEB.COM Newswire
Augusta, GA (PRWEB) August 01, 2011
Some Richmond County officials have joined with certain prohibitionist groups to urge extension of the state’s smoking ban to include bars and restaurants in the Greater August area. The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, based in Columbus, Georgia disagrees with the proposed extension.
Advocates of the ban extension say they are pressing the move in Augusta now and that other cities in Georgia, e.g. Macon and Atlanta, are their next targets.
“There are as many examples across the United States of cities and counties loosening their smoking bans as there are those tightening them,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. “They are finding that legislated smoking bans are unnecessary, they inhibit economic growth, and health issue like secondhand smoke are seriously overstated by the prohibitionists.”
McCalla says business owners have the inherent right to decide for themselves whether or not their establishments should be smoke free or not. He said legislated smoking bans are based on the misplaced motivations of local and state lawmakers and regulators.
“Prohibitionists are not bad people. They just don’t have their facts straight and not enough people challenge their misstatements. For example, they said smoking bans don’t hurt businesses. The fact is that smoking bans cost jobs, tax revenues and economic growth in the communities where they are in effect. No less authority than the Federal Reserve Bank, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is on record showing that smoking bans cost jobs and hurt businesses while putting them at a disadvantage to other competing businesses in surrounding areas,” McCalla said.
“Then there are the health claims, like there are no safe levels of secondhand smoke and the 2006 Surgeon General’s Report which has been discredited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA – a division of the United States’ Department of Labor. OSHA has, indeed, set safe levels for secondhand smoke and they are 25,000 times higher than the air quality found in most bars and restaurants that permit smoking,” he said.
“When government takes away from restaurant and other business owners their right to decide how to run their businesses, it is exceeding its authority and is attacking the rights of smokers and non-smokers, alike,” he said.
According to McCalla, many of the IPCPR’s retail members sell their premium tobacco products to restaurants and bars who, in turn, sell them to their customers.
“To ban smoking in Richmond County restaurants and bars will severely reduce these sales which will translate into reduced excise, sales, and income tax revenues for greater Augusta and the entire state of Georgia,” he said.
Tony Tortorici

Richmond County Board of Health endorses extended smoking ban

July 12, 2011
By Tom Corwin, Staff Writer

The Richmond County Board of Health voted unanimously Tuesday night to endorse a tougher smoking ordinance and to approach the Augusta Commission about enacting a stricter standard.

Currently, the city is under state law, which bans smoking in public places but allows it in bars and restaurants that do not serve anyone younger than 18, said Sadie Stockton, a chronic disease prevention/health promotion program coordinator for the East Central Health District, based in Augusta.

Advocates such as the American Cancer Society have formed a coalition that is targeting the state’s larger cities to extend the ban to those businesses, said Lora Hawk, Breathe Easy Coalition manager for the cancer society.

Augusta was chosen “because you’re already so health-minded,” she said, with strong health care employment. The coalition is also targeting Macon and eventually Atlanta, Hawk said.

Savannah, Buena Vista and Morrow in Georgia and Aiken, North Augusta and Aiken County in South Carolina are listed as smoke-free in bars and restaurants by American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Outside of 25 states and territories that have smoke-free laws, 468 cities and counties have adopted smoke-free ordinances as of July 1, the group said.

In 2005, Columbia County banned smoking in public buildings, except private clubs, retail tobacco stores and certain outdoor areas. It extended the prohibition last month to outdoor areas of most county-owned properties.

In its model legislation, the coalition cites studies on the dangers of secondhand smoke, including the 2006 U.S. surgeon general’s report that found there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Businesses might have to endure a little bit of a burden from a stronger ordinance, “but in the long run they will see the benefit,” said Clifton Dennis, a respiratory therapist at Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics and chairman of the CSRA Asthma Coalition.

There was a clamor from restaurants and bar owners in previous attempts to pass a stronger ordinance. A telephone survey of 828 Richmond County residents by the University of Georgia in March and April found that 82 percent think smoking should not be allowed in an indoor workplace, 78 percent think it should not be allowed in restaurants and 45 percent think it should not be allowed in bars or clubs.

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