Smoke-free Atlanta? City officials considering ban on smoking in public places

ATLANTA — It could soon be illegal to smoke inside any building in the city of Atlanta including bars and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

At least two city council members are already on board with the plan.

"Atlanta is literally one of the last major cities to not have this type of comprehensive legislation in place," councilman Matt Westmoreland told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot. 

Westmoreland introduced the new, tougher ordinance Monday.

Under it, people could still smoke outside the main terminal. But it would make smoking inside the concourses, even in the specially designated rooms, illegal.

Anyone wanting to smoke would have to leave the concourses, walk out of the building and to designated area.

Westsmoreland told Elliot it’s time Atlanta became more smoke free.

“Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest airport, and if you look at international hubs, whether Heathrow in London or Beijing, the second busiest in the world, they’re smoke free,” he said.


Atlanta banned smoking in restaurants nearly 10 years ago, but this proposal goes even further. It bans smoking in bars and public spaces, even within five feet of building entrances.

George Najour owns Georgia's in Virginia Highlands. He says when the city banned smoking in restaurants, a lot of people were worried. But it has worked out for the best.

"I’ve been here for over 40 years, and back when everybody was smoking in bars, it was tough on employees, myself. I was very glad to see it change," he told Elliot.

Najour said his business has gotten better since the previous smoking ban.

"The customers that do want to smoke, they’ll step outside. They don’t mind. But the majority of our customers seem to really like having clean air," he said.

Cigar bars, hookah bars and vape shops would be exempt under the law.