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 • E-mail your comments for the McDuffie County Commission to smokingban@thomson-mcduffie.net

 • See public comment on the proposed smoking ban at Thomson-McDuffie.net


Smoking ban gets public discussion

Jacqueline Fincher found herself in a familiar position Monday night.

smokin.jpg

Commissioner Darrell Wester talks during Monday's meeting.

It was just 10 years ago, she said, that she and Dr. Clint Lambert asked McDuffie County commissioners and Thomson City Council members to ban smoking in public places.

Monday night she was making the same request during a public hearing at the McDuffie County Courthouse.

"As far as I'm concerned, we're 10 years behind," the Thomson physician said.

About a dozen local residents spoke during Monday night's public hearing, most of them in favor of a smoking ban.

"This is not government intervention," said Frank Powell, the Thomson doctor who first broached commissioners about the smoking ban in November. "This is the people who choose not to smoke, the majority of people, who are asking for an ordinance banning smoking."

Commissioners are considering the McDuffie County Smoke-free Air Act, which mirrors Georgia Senate Bill 9.

But county commissioner Darrell Wester said he was worried that the ordinance as presented to commissioners was too far-reaching, restricting smoking and requiring related signage in any business with more than one employee.

"We keep hearing restaurant ban," he said, adding that he wasn't against a smoking ban in restaurants. "This is a lot more encompassing than that."

Meanwhile, commissioners are expanding their search for public input. They plan to set up a website and receive comments from a special email address, smokingban@thomson-mcduffie.net.

For some, Monday's night's hearing was their chance to speak against the proposed ordinance.

Melissa Chambers said she has smoked for 17 years and has healthy lungs and healthy children. She asked commissioners to consider banning alcohol sales, because drinking and driving is as dangerous to others as second-hand smoke.

"And where's my right as a smoker?" she asked. "What do I have (if commissioners ban smoking)? I have nothing left."

She also added that non-smokers already have a choice of restaurants in McDuffie County.

"Currently in McDuffie County there are non-smoking restaurants, and there are smoking restaurants," she said. "The non-smokers have a choice. If they don't want to be in a smoking atmosphere, they can go to the restaurant that doesn't have smoking, or they can get their meal and take it home."

Barrett Smith wondered where the bans would stop. Would commissioners, he asked, next take on obesity?

"Next year will we be discussing an ordinance requiring Ryan's to put in a set of scales?" he quipped.

Commissioners will take public input for the rest of the month before taking the ban up again at their Feb. 28 work session.

Dr. Wester encouraged smoking ban supporters to use the interim to formulate a less intrusive version of the ordinance for commissioners.

"At least give us something we can work with, that's enforceable," Dr. Wester said.

Commission seeks public input
 • E-mail your comments for the McDuffie County Commission to smokingban@thomson-mcduffie.net

Documents
 • McDuffie County Smoke-free Air Act (.pdf)
(.pdf format requires Adobe Reader, click here for free download)

On the Net
 •  View public comments at Thomson-McDuffie.net

Previous stories
 • Smoking ban passes State House as McDuffie waits
 • County sets smoking hearing for Monday
 • Columbia ban begins; McDuffie considers same
 • Local business owners surveyed on prospect of smoking ban
 • Commissioners agree to public hearing on smoking ban
 • Smoking ban to get more discussion
 • Group plans to ask for ban on smoking

Poll
 • Should McDuffie County Commissioners approve a ban on smoking in public places in McDuffie County?

Opinion
 • Mind your butts and your community
 • Reasons Why
 • Smoking ban deserves commissioners' consideration
 • Smoke free is the way to be in McDuffie County

Your Say
 • Freedom to breathe freely

Letters to the Editor
 • Ban should be supported
 • Public health at root of ban
 • Time for smoking ban is now
 • Ban is about changing quality of lives for the better
 • Smoking ban push is a "great cause" to support
 • Ban would deter second-hand exposure
 • Protect the rights and health of people
 • Ban is about changing quality of lives for the better



Web posted on Thursday, February 3, 2005











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