Smoking Ban Going Statewide in the Peach State

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There are dozens of local smoking bans in the Peach State, and soon that could be the case statewide. Supporters of a statewide ban say it may be likely for next year.

It's been almost a year since smokers have not been lighting up in public places in Bainbridge.

Lisa Stincer, a non-smoker, says, "I think it's been great. I don't have to be concerned when we go into a restaurant with our children where to sit."

Dole Hilton says, "I think it's an invasion of other folks’ rights."

Jack Zilis, a restaurant owner, says, "I don't think the city should dictate whether they should do that or not."

The state may regulate the issue next. Lawmakers will vote on a statewide ban in the next General Assembly. The bill failed in the '04 General Assembly, but supporters are confident of its passage this time.

A spokesperson for the American Lung Association says, "A lot of legislators will be coming from communities with this law already in place. They'll have had experience in how well it works."

But it didn't work so well in some restaurants. The owner of Cinda's in Bainbridge did not want to comment on camera, but says since the ban has gone into affect business has dropped significantly.

Dole Hilton adds, "I think people should be able to do it, but have certain sections where they can."

Lisa Stincer says, "Secondhand smoke is just as lethal as firsthand smoke."

Kicking the "butt" will be voted on next year by lawmakers, but will be an ongoing debate for citizens.

There are 22 cities and counties in Georgia with a local smoking ban. The first local ban in Georgia was passed almost 10 years ago in Albany.