Rome Smokefree Air Ordinance Goes Into Effect Starting April 1
By Kristi Kent
Effective April 1, 2019, the Rome Smokefree Air Ordinance will go into effect and expands the Georgia Smokefree Air Act to prohibit smoking in the Broad Street District.
In February 2019, the Rome City Commission voted overwhelmingly to pass the ordinance. The ordinance prohibits smoking in the publicly owned outdoor areas of Broad Street between East 1st Avenue and East 8th Avenue, including the side streets and alleyways for one block off Broad Street. This area encompasses the Broad Street District, Town Green, all downtown parking decks and Bridgepoint Plaza. Smoking is prohibited within a distance of 25 feet from a public entrance to a public place or place of employment.
Cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, vaping devices, JUULs and hookah pipes have the same restrictions as cigarettes under this ordinance.
Areas that are exempt from the smoking ordinance and where smoking is permitted include: Private residents (unless used as a childcare, adult day care or health care facility); designated smoking hotel and motel rooms; existing retail tobacco and vaping stores; 18 and over bars and restaurants; and designated smoking areas by employers that meet the requirements.
All businesses and public places in the specified prohibited smoking areas are required to clearly post a minimum of one “No Smoking” sign, which can be the international “No Smoking” symbol. Violations of the Rome Smokefree Air Ordinance can be reported by notifying the business owner. Violations can also be reported to the City Manager’s Office (706-236-4400) or the Rome City Police (911).
A person who smokes/vapes in an area where smoking is prohibited can be fined $50-$250. A business that permits smoking can be fined $100-$500. The City may also suspend or revoke permits or licenses issued to businesses that are habitual violators of the ordinance.
The goal of Rome’s Smokefree Air Act is to protect workers and the public from involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke and vapor. Exposure to secondhand smoke/vapor can contribute to or cause severe health problems in both smokers and non-smokers, including: cancer, emphysema, heart disease, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and asthma. Tobacco use, particularly smoking, is the leading cause of death in the United States. Eliminating smoking in public will reduce the number of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths, which number more than 11,000 each year in Georgia Alone. This law provides cleaner and safer environments for citizens to live, work and play.
There are several smoking cessation resources available to the public. Contact the Tobacco Program Manager of the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition, Sandra Bethune at 706-676-4756. The Georgia Tobacco Quit Line provides free counseling, support and referral services for tobacco users and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Quit line services are available free of charge for Georgia; call the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP (7867) or visit www.dph.georgia.gov/ready-quit.