Kennesaw considering city-wide smoking ban
by Hannah Morgan
September 18, 2013 01:05 AM | 7435 views | 27 27 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Kennesaw leaders are eyeing a plan that would make the act of lighting up a crime almost everywhere in the city outside of private residences.

If Kennesaw were to move forward and adopt the proposed ordinance, it would become the first city in Cobb County to ban smoking, not only at public parks and city-owned buildings but at all privately owned, indoor work places.

A draft ordinance was introduced to the council Sept. 11 by Councilwoman Cris Welsh, who called the effort “very preliminary.”

Welsh has worked with the Cobb Douglas Public Health and the Cobb Chamber’s Health and Wellness Committee to craft the framework of the potential new law.

The proposal would ban all smoking — cigars, cigarettes and even e-cigarettes — virtually everywhere that people gather, including bars, parks, Laundromats, offices, gaming facilities, within 20 feet of outdoor playgrounds, all sports arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters, bus shelters, restaurants, stores and all educational facilities.

The only place explicitly named in the draft ordinance where smoking would not be regulated is private residences, “unless used as a childcare, adult day care or healthcare facility.”

Smokers caught lighting up would be hit with a fine of up to $50 for each infraction.

Employers who violated the law would be punished with a fine up to $100 on first violation; up to $200 for the second violation within a one-year period and up to $500 for each additional violation within that year.

Months away from making a decision

Welsh said the initial presentation, which occurred at the City Council’s Sept. 11 work session, was “simply the beginning of a discussion about making our community smoke free,” she said, adding that the council was months away from being able to enact any sort of ordinance.

Smoking bans have become popular throughout the region. The city of Norcross most recently banned smoking in public places in May 2012, after similar smoking bans popped up in Clayton County, Alpharetta and Duluth. The city of Savannah banned smoking in all workplaces in 2010.

Cobb County has considered banning smoking in its almost 80 public parks and recreational facilities, but no ban has been imposed so far.

“We are very pleased that Kennesaw is the first to step up and take the lead with this issue,” said Kirk Miller, a grassroots manager for the American Cancer Society. He said he hopes other Cobb County cities will follow Kennesaw’s lead.

24-page document drafted

Georgia law allows smoking in bars and restaurants, as long as there are no persons under the age of 18 present. Welsh thinks people at bars and restaurants would be the most heavily affected by the potential ban.

Councilman Tim Killingsworth said the proposed ban is still in its infancy and, as far as he is concerned, no changes to current smoking laws are on the horizon.

The proposed smoking ban, contained in a 24-page draft document, was distributed to council members at last week’s meeting.

The council’s initial response to the idea of a smoking ban was positive, Welsh said, but the council would look over the actual ordinance in detail at the next city council work session, set for Wednesday, Oct. 2.

Lisa Crossman, at Cobb Douglas Public Health, has worked with Welsh on developing the draft ordinance, and has been invited to the next work session to help the council members go through the ordinance, Welsh said.

Government overreach or sound policy?

Across Cobb County, the idea of a total ban on smoking was perceived as a government overreach by some leaders.

Austell Mayor Joe Jerkins said his city doesn’t allow smoking in government buildings, but that’s as far as the ban goes.

“I think people should smoke in their own house if they want to. I don’t think we need to be like Russia, a communist country or something,” Jerkins said. “In a park, I can’t see it affecting anybody on the outside. I just don’t see it on the outside being a problem.”

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon said his city has an ordinance banning smoking on city property only.

Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said his city has no special ordinance banning smoking nor does he have any plans to move forward with one.

Robert Quigley, county spokesman, said unincorporated Cobb County doesn’t have any special ban on smoking other than what state law requires.

 

Comments
(27)
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B Q
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September 24, 2013
Really you think we could sell smoking permits to add to the city revenue. It worked when i was in high school.
Cris Eaton Welsh
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September 20, 2013
I knew putting the topic out there would start conversations. That is all this is, a conversation!

I am looking forward to listening to the conversations on both sides. That's how we make our community better and stronger.

Now if folks would pay attention to the budget with the same fervor then we could really get some things done!
30 yrs in Kennesaw
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September 22, 2013
LOL...sorry...I just don't believe that you started this for "conversation" purposes.

I think that's very convenient to say after seeing 20 of 21 comments disagree (to say it mildly).

By the way: Would love to comment and be involved with budget issues..if I have missed the stories/articles, I will pay more attention in the future!
Papermill gal
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September 24, 2013
Ms. Welch, wasting time on a punitive 24 page document that infringes on the individual rights of citizens just so you can Get Recognized by Michelle Obama, is not making our community better or stronger.

Tone, focus and priorities are things that allow public officials to be elected. Your tone is condescending, your priorities are absolutely upside down and your focus seems to be all about YOU. Nothing personal, truly. I admire your willingness to serve. But you need to pivot (as the Obama's would say) to something else, asap.
RL Bays
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September 26, 2013
Cris, I support the ban. Non-smokers should not be subjected to the deadly habits of smokers.
Kennesaw Resident
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October 01, 2013
Really??? This is what you are doing with your time instead of trying to get some real issues taken care of. I am so tired of people thinking they can tell others how to live their lives. If they want to smoke let them smoke! How about you come up with some real ideas as far as traffic, and revitalizing our downtown. When is the next election??
Diana W
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September 19, 2013
I do not smoke myself but why are you trying to take away the rights of everyone. Like other have said you need to be thinking more on Drugs and Crimes in the area That is what is killing people. I have a lung problem but its not from smoking. Not everything is from SMOKING. So please take care of running the city or Town and leave our choice of freedom alone. I people choice not to be around smoke then stay away from pleases when it is allowed. We have no FREEDOM anymore it is a "choice" and we are old enough to make our own.
Bob Johnson
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September 19, 2013
Private homes will be next. Once the ban people find gullible lawmakers and get a foot in the door, there's no stopping them. They'll keep returning to "close the loop holes" It's already happened in many communities in California, the birthplace of the bans. Their grant money is endless. It sure beats having to get a real job.
Bob Johnson
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September 19, 2013
It must be nice living where real crime is not an issue.
Eastcool
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September 19, 2013
I'm tired of the government making all these smoking rules. where am i supposed to smoke if they ban smoking in bars and restaurants? i go to sidelines because you can smoke all you want in there. i'm tired of this---i may move back to new jersey next year where you can do what you want.
skycat11
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September 19, 2013
This proposal makes a farce of justice. Smoking bans started out with an air of scientific justification regarding indoor bans, but to extend them to outdoor bans on e-cigarettes with no evidence of significant harm is ludicrous.

If the prosecution of a citizen requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed a crime, shouldn't there be proof that the law he violated was based on facts? It looks to me like the field of public health itself is morally suspect in its insatiable drive to "denormalize" smoking.
30 yrs in Kennesaw
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September 18, 2013
Enough Ms Welsh! I am a non smoker BUT... to ban smoking in private businesses? Bars?... Stop already! I have yet to hear a decent proposal from you on anything...you do NOT represent what Kennesaw is about. I am OK with not smoking in parks where there are kids...I am OK with not smoking in restaurants where there are kids. But no Ecigs...that's a bit insane, considering how much toxic emissions our automobile put out while driving 25 MPH thru the city. Can you be voted out? I can only hope.
Ksaw
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September 18, 2013
I used to argue against smoking bans, but... it's easy for people not to visit bars unless they work at those bars. It's not as easy to say that people should just go to work somewhere else.

The people who work in bars have to be there. Bars can have smoking outdoors... there's no good reason for people to smoke indoors where it affects both smokers and non-smokers.
30 yrs in Kennesaw
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September 23, 2013
You post a good argument for not smoking indoors....yet this proposal would not allow smokers to even go to the deck to smoke. Would that kill business? How would that affect your tips?

Just asking.
Bill H
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September 18, 2013
Surely the time and effort that went into a 24 page 'draft' document could have been spent on something more productive.

There is no chance this will ever become a law in Kennesaw, the ACLU would jump on it with both feet. Watch for Leno and Letterman to have something to say about it.
Smoking Gun Toter
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September 18, 2013
Wouldn't it be more characteristic of Kennesaw to require that everyone smoke? People can carry their cigs in the pocket opposite their gun.
Kennesaw Patriot
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September 18, 2013
Sad to hear that Kennesaw would even consider this ordinance. Kennesaw is known worldwide for it's support of individual rights, the Gun Law, etc.

Things must really be getting bad if liberals like Cris "Obama" Welsh are pushing for this junk.

Suppress individual liberty and run off business...great plan!
County Citizen
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September 18, 2013
This is just about as stupid as many of the dumb liberal ideas you hear about such as the size of the soda you can buy! Is that what's next if this is passed??? This is an infringement of personal choice and freedom! Smoking is already banned in the majority of public places, and the majority of smokers respect their fellow non-smokers that don't want it around them. There must be something a lot more productive or better for citizens that the politicians can be working on, need ideas>?? How about starting with drugs, crime, and traffic issues. Also, the water around here taste like crap, what's up with that??? Honestly, there must be much higher priorities and much better ways to make this county better, this sounds more like wasting out tax money on needless laws then anything else!
Incredulous
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September 18, 2013
As an asthmatic, I'm a vehement NON-smoker. However, I feel that the current ordinances on smoking adequately protect the rights of smokers and non-smokers. If I don't want to be exposed to a smoke filled bar, then guess what? I don't go to a smoke filled bar.

It's a funny thing with rights. You give a little away here and there, and suddenly you wake up one day and find out you're not very free anymore.

I've lived in Kennesaw since 1997 and there are much more pressing issues for our elected officials to be focused on.

Unless, of course, that's the whole point of proposing a smoking ban...
No to Smoke
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September 18, 2013
I do not smoke. I despise 2nd hand smoke. I don't like being around smoke of any kind. HOWEVER, this is just over the top ridiculous. Why does the Kennesaw government feels that it needs to regulate everything in our lives???
ROBERT 5286
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September 18, 2013
IF YOU WANT TO BAN SMOKING THEN WHY DONT YOU MAKE SELLING CIGARETTES A CRIME

THIS SOUND LIKE A 1 SIDED ISSUE I DO SMOKE AND NOW YOU SAY THAT I CANT
1OldFart
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September 18, 2013
No, we do not want your second-hand smoke. Just your money from taxes.
Hypocrites
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September 18, 2013
The city that champions constitutional rights (not banning guns) has no problem banning other rights. I don't smoke and, in fact, I'm at high risk of developing lung cancer due to Hodgkin's radiation treatments, but I'm sick of government overreach (including $50 fines, in this case) and the nanny-state we're creating.
Kennesaw resident
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September 19, 2013
First, I do not support this law. I despise smoking and avoid smokers like the plague but business owners should be able to decide what legal activities go on on their premises. I do, however, take exception to your use of the insane gun law for your argument. You are basically saying it is not ok for the local government to limit activities in public places but it does have the right to insist I own and maintain a firearm in my private home?
Concerned Voter
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September 18, 2013
I normally dislike anonymous comments, but in saying this I fear for my job. I don't like second hand smoke. I hear that the CDC says it is dangerous. I am not sure I agree, but it is stinky.

However, e-cigarettes have no second hand smoke. Why is there a need to ban them in public? What is the reasoning on this. There is no danger posed to others, and they don't smell. They emit water vapor.

I have to think that this is not about public safety, but about a general desire of out betters, (in this case the CDC through a grant to Cobb County) to tell people that smoke how to live their lives. This is no argument made as to why they should be banned from the public square.

We should welcome e-cigarettes, as they are step in the right direction for people addicted to cigarettes.

Just Wait
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September 18, 2013
The city should just be concerned with what is under their jurisdiction and not telling private businesses what to do on their own property.
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