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News Summary

Local anti-smoking laws may trump state ban

Publication Date: 6/26/2005
  • Author:PATRICIA GUTHRIE
  • Publication:Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution
Scattered throughout Georgia are 26 local laws governing where, when and under what circumstances smoking is permitted. They differ in language, nuances, definitions and restrictions.

And Friday, things will get more complicated when a statewide smoking ban begins. The state law doesn't trump local ordinances that are stricter....

Local smoke-free ordinances remain if they are tougher than the state law. Most are.

"Nothing will really change," says state Sen. Don Thomas, a Republican from Dalton and a longtime physician, who's spent years educating the Legislature on the health consequences of secondhand smoke. "If the local ordinances are in place, they will stay in place, and they've been in place for some time, so I think people are used to them."

But decisions still need to be made in places like Locos Deli in Lawrenceville, which faces a smoking ban for the first time. The state law forces restaurants and bars to choose between two sets of customers — families with kids or drinkers and diners with nicotine needs.

To allow smoking, businesses have two options: Not serving or employing anyone under 18, or creating a separate, enclosed room with an independent ventilation system.

Managing partner Chris Martinson said the Lawrenceville Locos will probably become a nonsmoking establishment. One reason is that some hostesses are 16 years old. Another is that upgrading the ventilation system would be expensive, he said.

Davidson, who owns a string of Derby Food & Spirits in five locations, knows all about that.