Smoking Ban Headed For Governor’s Desk

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ATLANTA — A smoking ban in most public buildings got final approval in the Legislature late Thursday, but in a weaker form than it was originally proposed.

Senators voted 46-4 to give final approval to the ban, agreeing to a list of exemptions added by the House.

The original version would have banned tobacco smoking in virtually all public buildings. But House members added a list of exemptions — including bars, restaurants that serve only adults and small businesses.

Smoking also would be allowed in lounges at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Despite the changes, backers who have pushed the bill for the past three years celebrated its passage. Sen. Don Thomas of Dalton, a doctor who sponsored the bill, said it will save thousands of lives.

Local governments that already have stricter smoking laws will be allowed to keep them under the bill, and may pass tougher ones in the future.

The plan must now be signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to become law. The ban would go into effect on July 1.

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