Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Bars exempted in proposed PTC smoke ban
By JOHN MUNFORD
A proposed ordinance to ban smoking in most public places in Peachtree City will be debated by the city council at its regular meeting Aug. 5.
The latest tweak to the proposed ordinance exempts bars from the non-smoking requirements if food accounts for less than 60 percent of their revenue. Most restaurants which also have bars will not meet that exemption because their food sales average around 80 percent of the total revenue, noted Mayor Steve Brown.
Among the bars that will likely meet the exemption guidelines are Hangar 74, Y-Knot and Martinis, officials said.
The catch to the exemption is that those bars may no longer allow anyone on the premises under the age of 18, including employees. Brown said that concession from the bar owners, which will affect Y-Knot the most, was due to the citys wishes to protect children from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
They have very graciously said we will do the best we can to see if we can stick it out under these circumstances, Brown said.
Rick Parham, owner of the Y-Knot sports bar, noted that much of his clientele smokes, and they have done so for years. They know smokings bad for you, Parham said, adding that many of his patrons come to watch sporting events in an environment where they can smoke.
Parham said he has talked to many of his patrons about the possible smoking ban, and they will go to Fayetteville, Newnan or Tyrone now that Tyrone has liquor by the drink.
Councilman Steve Rapson said he was not totally convinced the city should allow an exemption to the smoking ban for bars. He noted that the only phone calls he has received about the ordinance were in support of it, not against it.
Convince me why bars should be left out, Rapson said. ... If it is a health issue, why are we carving out anything? Are we doing enough?
Brown said bars have catered to smokers for quite some time and the city was protecting those under 18 who often dont have a choice as to where they go. Adults can make the conscious choice whether or not to go to bars which allow smoking, Brown noted.
Kathie Cheney, a former flight attendant who was diagnosed with throat cancer 16 years ago, said her oncologist then told her it was due to being exposed to second-hand smoke. Now, research is showing that heart disease is a bigger part of the health affects from second-hand smoke, Cheney noted.
At what point will we have enough information that we say we dont want it in our bars either? Cheney said.
I think what weve got here is a significant change to what we have now, Brown said, noting that protecting children from exposure to second-hand smoke was an important element.
Brown said the city would work with commercial establishments to help them develop outdoor smoking areas. He noted that the Aberdeen Woods conference center recently went smoke-free, and they provided a nice covered outdoor patio for smokers to use. Surprisingly, they have had no complaints from smokers, Brown added.
The city will also develop non-smoking signs that can be bought to meet the ordinances requirement for posting such signs in any place where the ordinance prohibits smoking, Brown said.
The ordinance contains a requirement for commercial establishments to have positive air flow to prevent smoke from filtering indoors from people who choose to smoke outdoors. Brown said that can be fixed with a service call from an HVAC repairman, with no burdensome expense for new equipment.
Because of that requirement, the distance a person can smoke from a building has been reduced to 10 feet from 25 feet in the proposed ordinance, Brown noted.
The proposed ordinance also offers an exemption for private clubs, so long as their building isnt open to the public, such as done on bingo nights, for example, Brown said. Rapson said he thought the ordinance should define what a private club is.
Home offices will also be exempted from the non-smoking requirement under the proposed ordinance. Anyone who smokes in a prohibited smoking area can be punished by a fine of up to $50, according to the ordinance.
A 90-day grace period has also been added to the ordinance, giving establishments and citizens extra time to prepare for complying with the ordinance if it is approved by the city council, Brown said.
Peachtree City resident Harold Logsdon praised the manner in which the two public meetings have been run. Although emotions ran high at times, Brown helped make sure citizens on both sides of the issue were heard.
While I dont agree with everything, youve done a good job in creating a compromise and Ive got to compliment you on that, Logsdon said.
Brown said he felt the meetings were some of the most productive he has ever attended.
Copyright 2004-Fayette Publishing, Inc.