CHAMBLEE, Ga. - Unless you’re inside a house or walking along a residential street, it’s now essentially illegal to smoke a cigarette in Chamblee.
The City Council on Tuesday passed a smoking ban that is stricter than the one recently passed by the city of Atlanta. The ordinance prohibits smoking within 50 feet of any public area, including restaurants, bars, workplaces, outdoor seating spaces, parks and more.
The ordinance allows smoking inside single-family homes. But people who live in condos, apartments or townhomes won’t be able to light up. The ban also applies to the increasingly popular e-cigarette devices.
“With all the new mixed-use developments that we’ve got coming into Chamblee, it’s a big deal,” Mock said, “because you shouldn’t have to live your life in misery because your neighbors want to smoke.”
The impetus for the rule, Mock said, was a concern over the public health effects of smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke.
“I can’t stand cigarette smoke,” said Councilman Brian Mock, who introduced the measure. “All of our businesses in Chamblee are going to have to post ‘No Smoking’ signs.”
Though the council vote was unanimous, Mock expects there to be some pushback from smokers. Just the other day, he said, he was sitting outside of a restaurant eating with his family when smoke began wafting toward him.
“Somebody came up and sat right next to me and lit up,” he said, describing behavior that will now be illegal. “You’re impacting my health.”
People found in violation of the ordinance will have to pay $50 for the first offense, and $75 for the second.
“You can be walking down the street in downtown Chamblee and be in violation at any point,” he said, since much of the area is comprised of businesses.
DeKalb County — which was the first county in Georgia to restrict smoking — prohibits smoking within 20 feet of any public place, workplace or park. Its ordinance only applies to unincorporated parts of the county, and not cities that have their own rules.
The Atlanta City Council voted this month to ban smoking in most public places, as well as at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. That led to frustration from some established bars that have been known for allowing smoking.
Mock couldn’t think of any popular bars or restaurants in Chamblee that currently allow smoking. There are some exceptions to the new rule where smoking will still be allowed, including tobacco stores, hookah lounges and strip clubs.
The new ordinance is also a sign of the increasingly urban landscape of Chamblee, historically known as a working class suburb. The city has taken strides in recent years to increase development and access to public transportation. Census estimates show its population has increased more than 10% since 2010, reaching nearly 30,000 people last year.
“We’ve had a lot of new folks moving into Chamblee, a lot of young folks moving into Chamblee,” Mock said. “They don’t smoke and they don’t want it around them.”
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