Smoking Ban in Bainbridge Leads to Arrest

It's already happened in Florida, now all public buildings in the city of Bainbridge, Georgia have gone smoke-free.

We talked to one man, Bert Steen, who was arrested for lighting up shortly after 12 a.m. Thursday morning.

He says he's not giving up his right without a fight.

Bert Steen and his friends enjoy smoking cigarettes and hanging out at the Huddle House in Bainbridge.

But shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day, they lost the right to do so.

"At 12 a.m. we were notified by management that we would have to put out the cigarettes and we refused, and their reaction was, they had to call the police or they would be liable,” comments Steen.

Steen became the first person arrested for violating Bainbridge’s new ban on smoking in public places, which is receiving mixed reviews throughout the community.

"Maybe children, it might bother them, and some old folks, but other than that it don't bother me at all!” adds Steve Rentz.

"I'm all for the smoking ban, I think it's a good thing,” Carlton Earnest comments.

Area restaurant managers say they may lose some business, but they'll try to make the ban work in their favor.

"Our emphasis is going to be bringing people in that normally don't go out because of smoke, 75-percent of the population doesn't smoke, so there's a good amount of people that would want to come into an area that's non-smoking,” Larry Steiner explains.

But protestors like Bert Steen say accepting the ban is out of the question, and their fight against it has only just begun.

So far, Bert Steen is the only person to have been arrested for violating the ban, but community members tell me the police aren't taking it lightly and more arrests may follow.

Smoking rooms in motels, retail tobacco stores, and designated smoking areas in places of employment are the places where smoking is not banned.