TIFTON - Overshadowed by discussion of a possible liquor referendum, a proposed smoking ban went almost unnoticed at a joint city-county meeting Monday.
The planned ordinances, requested by citizens' groups who visited meetings of both governments, would prohibit smoking in all public places including "restaurants, waiting rooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways, public transit, restrooms, enclosed shopping malls, elevators, service lines, educational, recreational and health care facilities, child care facilities, auditoriums, theaters, arenas, meeting rooms, convention halls, polling places, bingo games, bowling facilities, video arcades, pool halls and other amusement centers."
Also included in the ban would be all buildings and vehicles owned by the city or county. Exceptions include private clubs and businesses not included in the definition of "public place"; private residences (except when used as a child care, adult day care or health care facility); property owned or leased by the state or federal government; designated smoking rooms in hotels and motels; and some outdoor areas of public places or places of employment.
Smoking would not be allowed within 25 feet of the entrance of public places. The owners of businesses not included in the ordinance could opt to declare their businesses a non-smoking establishment and become eligible to request enforcement of the ordinance by city authorities.
Violations of the ordinance would be punishable by a fine of up to $75 and in the case of business owners could lose their licenses.
Some businesses have already adopted their own no-smoking ordinances. Tift Regional Medical Center, one of the largest employers in Tift County, enacted a ban of smoking of its grounds last year.
Other cities in South Georgia have put smoking bans in place, either fully or with restrictions. Albany banned smoking in public places years ago while Valdosta put a new ordinance in effect earlier this year, only to amend it recently to allow some bars to permit smoking with certain guidelines.
The reciprocal ordinances would put the ban into effect in both Tift County and the city of Tifton. The governments are expected to vote on the ordinances during a called joint meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9.
To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.
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