The City of South Fulton now prohibits smoking and vaping in city buildings, other enclosed public facilities and certain areas of outdoor public venues.
The bill’s sponsors – council members Catherine F. Rowell, Carmalitha Gumbs, Helen Willis, Naeema Gilyard, Corey A. Reeves and Mark Baker – proposed the measure to address the lack of a state law protecting people at such facilities from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
“Georgia does not have a comprehensive smoke-free law to protect people from second-hand smoke in all indoor areas such as workplaces, restaurants and bars,” Reeves, who first proposed the ordinance, said. “Other cities have adopted ordinances that go further than simply complying with the Georgia Smokefree Air Act of 2005 because there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, which can lead to serious medical complications, such as strokes, lung cancer, emphysema, asthma and heart disease.”
Savannah adopted a similar measure in 2010, and Canton following suit in 2018 and Atlanta adopting its own ordinance in 2019.
In addition to the more well-known dangers, second-hand smoke exposure during pregnancy has been associated with low birth weight, early delivery, learning and behavioral deficiencies in children and sudden infant death syndrome. It also is one of the most common asthma triggers and can lead to more frequent and more severe asthma attacks in children.
Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke and vapor as their brains are still forming and the introduction of nicotine causes the brain’s nicotine receptors to increase in number, thus increasing the craving which leads to addiction.
The new legislation prohibits smoking and vaping in enclosed areas of places of employment, including common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, vehicles, and all other enclosed facilities. Employers are required to inform potential employees of the restrictions during interviews.
In addition, the measure bans smoking and vaping in public spaces, such as bars, restaurants, libraries, museums, education buildings, hotels and motels, retail stores and malls, sports arenas, theatres, private clubs, nursing homes and many others. Smoking and vaping not permitted within 25 feet of bleachers, dugouts, pools, restrooms, playgrounds or sports field sidelines where members of the public may sit.
The ordinance does not apply to private homes, patios at restaurants and cigar and hookah bars.