Friday, April 29, 2011

Smoking ordinance also banning e-cigarettes for Macon vetoed

Macon, Georgia

The Macon Telegraph reported today that Macon's tighter rules on smoking are going back to the drawing board, sent there by a mayoral veto Thursday.

"Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said he thinks the measure was passed without sufficient public input," the article stated.
"My veto is based on the fact that this ordinance is, in my opinion, excessively broad and includes public parks as well as all other open spaces" as areas that would be off-limits to smokers, he said in a news release.

"The measure passed Macon City Council on April 19 by a vote of 9-6. It takes 10 votes to override a mayoral veto."

"Rather than override the veto, I encourage council to reduce the scope of this ordinance and get Bibb County to pass a joint ordinance," Reichert's statement said. "I will work with them in this regard."

"That's in line with what some opponents wanted. Councilman Mike Cranford said local business owners were petitioning Reichert to veto the ordinance, and threatening to sue if the smoking ban went into effect. Arguing that tighter smoking rules in Macon would drive bar and restaurant business just outside city limits, they said any new law should be done in conjunction with the county."

"Gregory Conley, with the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, welcomed the opportunity for more public discussion since it would allow lobbying for an exemption for electronic cigarettes. Those deliver a mist of nicotine and flavors for "smokers" to inhale, but they don't actually burn or produce any smoke."

"Reichert said input should have been gathered from "citizens, health officials, property and business owners."

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CASAA sent a letter to Mayor Reichert Thursday, urging him to veto the bill.

"Please VETO the smoke-free workplace ordinance approved last week by City Council. Sec. 13-39(a)(20) bans the usage of smoke-free electronic cigarettes by deceitfully defining their use as "smoking" and the "purpose" and "findings" sections of the proposed ordinance fail to mention e-cigarettes or provide any public health rationale for banning their usage," the letter said.

"While the proposed ordinance would only ban smoking in approximately one-hundred workplaces in Macon (that are currently exempt from the GA smoke-free workplace law) the proposed ordinance would ban the usage of e-cigarettes in tens of thousands of workplaces in Macon.  As such, the proposed ordinance's impact on e-cigarette usage is far greater than its impact on smoking.  Your veto message can encourage the City Council to eliminate the prohibition on e-cigarette usage and then reconsider the proposal."

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