Smyrna bans smoking downtown

Smyrna City Hall in article Smyrna bans smoking downtownSmyrna City Hall (photo by Larry Felton Johnson, Licensed under Creative Commons 4.0)

Drinking yes, smoking no.

Nearly two years after voting to allow open containers of alcohol in its downtown district, the Smyrna City Council voted 6-1 Monday night to ban smoking in the area.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time, I’ve been talking about it for several years with the ownership of the restaurants in downtown,” said Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon during his final city council meeting before retirement. “This should make everybody happy for a while.”

The ban includes downtown restaurants Atkins Park Tavern and Zucca Bar and Pizzeria, which had long debated indoor smoking bans on their premises and did so on their own Dec. 1. The ban is designed to prevent a new restaurant from opening in the area and allowing smoking, thus taking business away from Atkins and Zucca.

The downtown district runs along Atlanta Road from Windy Hill Road to Concord Road, including Smyrna Market Village and several bars and restaurants. Since 2018, patrons have been allowed to carry beer and other alcoholic drinks out of restaurants and consume them outside, so long as they were purchased onsite. That practice is still allowed, but indoor and outdoor smoking is now banned outside of designated areas.

Even with the change, indoor smoking isn’t banned citywide, and a quartet of restaurants, Doc’s Food & Spirits, Varner’s Restaurant & Tavern, Red & Terry’s Timbers and the Smyrna Moose Lodge, still allow the increasingly rare practice of smoking inside.

The lone vote against the smoking ban came from outgoing Ward 3 council member Maryline Blackburn, who wanted it to go further.

“I understand what we’re doing, and I’ve said this before when we brought this forward,” said Blackburn. “The state law also gives us as a city a way to enforce it even further, to make it a citywide ordinance,” said Blackburn. “If Atlanta can do it, if Savannah can do it, if New Orleans can do it and San Francisco can do it, I don’t understand why Smyrna, Georgia, cannot be a smoke-free city.”

People who live downtown can still smoke inside their homes, and smoking inside private vehicles is also allowed. The ban includes e-cigarettes.

Haisten Willis is a freelance writer who lives in Smyrna with his wife, daughter and dog. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from California State University, Fresno, serves on the board of SPJ Georgia and even rides a bike when time allows.

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  1. Weekly News (Dec. 23, 2019) - halfwheel

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