Puff puff, pass?

Tomorrow, Georgia’s smoking ban goes into effect in enclosed public areas like schools and banks. But as slow as things go down here, it won’t really start to kick in until October.

State to act slowly on smoking

The “smoking police” won’t be out in force Friday when Georgia’s smoking ban becomes law.

Instead, Georgia will roll out a three-month education campaign before cracking down on puffing in public places.

“We need for people to know, and for establishments to fully understand, that something very significant is taking place in Georgia,” said Dr. Stuart Brown, director of the state Division of Public Health. “I think we’ll find just how appreciative citizens are to sit in bars and restaurants and not have smoke wafting over them.”

The law aims to protect people, especially children, from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas where “the public is invited or in which the public is permitted,” such as restaurants, bars, banks, retail shops, businesses, malls, public transportation and educational facilities. Private clubs, military clubs and retail tobacco stores are exempted.

Restaurants and bars can permit smoking if they have a room with its own ventilation or if they don’t admit or employ anyone under 18.


Violators are tough to snag because they must be caught with the smoking gun — in this case, a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe.

Only one smoking citation statewide has gone to court and the person was found guilty, Brown said.

“The only fines related to smoking are not in violation of the law itself but for disorderly behavior when police appeared to enforce it,” he added.

Counties will decide how best to enforce the state law, Brown said. Police officers on patrol or fire, building and health inspectors could become smoke detectors of a different sort. They’d simply add it to inspection duties, he said.

It sorta reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer doesn’t realize the area code’s changed even after a month-long campaign. What part of “no smoking” do you think would be hardest for Georgians to understand to warrant three months of “reminders”?

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