Smoking ban takes effect, some still fighting it - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Smoking ban takes effect, some still fighting it

October 8, 2004

Tifton- Friday is the first day smokers had to put out their cigarettes before entering public places in Tifton and Tift County, but the city's and county's attempts to preserve the health of their citizens has some businessowners crying foul.

The phrase lunchtime rush is an understatement at Wishbone Fried Chicken. Even before the doors open, owner J.B. Stinchcomb and his staff are taking advance orders.

"The business has been open since 1968, and we have been smoking in the building ever since then, and customers have still been coming, and my sales have increased every year," Stinchcomb says.

But starting Friday, none of his loyal customers will be able light up inside the restaurant.

The ban also keeps smokers from lighting up at public places like the Tift Theatre and at least 25 feet from its entrance, but here's where some say it becomes unfair. Establishments like the antique shop next door are not required to go smoke-free.

Tuesday, city and county leaders revised the wording of the Clean Air Ordinance after business owners like Chris McMillan complained.

"I should be in control of what happens here. If I don't mind people smoking, that's my privilege," say McMillan.

It's a privilege he'll continue to keep. The public building smoking ban primarily effects city buildings and restaurants. Establishments like McMillan's Little Six laundromat, barber shops, banks and specialty stores can choose whether they want to keep smokers out.

"They mentioned to me after the revision that my business is excluded, the laundromats are, but I believe if one business is excluded then they all should be excluded," says McMillan.

Stinchcomb says after 36 years in business, he's not about to back down.

"I've already got about 240 signatures on my petition, but I'm going to try to get 1,000 signatures on the petition and take to the city council," Stinchcomb says.

But it remains to be seen if even a 1,000 fuming Tift Countians will be enough to convince government leaders to let their Clean Air ordinance go up in smoke.

Any person or business in violation of the ordinance is subject to a fine for the first and second offenses. After being caught a third time, the fines will be determined at the discretion of a judge.

Posted at 4:55 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com