The Valdosta city council is taking its first step right now in implementing a citywide smoking ban. The first of two public meetings on the ban got underway Thursday.
Right now, the city council is hearing testimony from an expert that came in from out of town about why the city should adopt a no-smoking policy. Two plans are on the table, and supporters say either one will help protect the health of Valdostans.
The Valdosta city council is considering making the Azalea City the latest Georgia city to be smoke free at all indoor offices and businesses.
"We have tried to craft us an ordinance that we think would be beneficial to the community. This is a health issue," said Sonny Vickers.
The council is considering two different plans. One would ban all indoor smoking, while the second would allow smoking in tobacco shops or bars where alcohol accounts for at least 70 percent of business.
Some restaurants, like JP Mulldoons, could lose their right to smoke, even though it’s already limited to a lounge equipped with an air purification system.
"If it is banned, you have to go 20 feet outside of the door to smoke a cigarette. So, if anyone wants to smoke, they would have to go halfway out into the parking lot," General Manager Robin Breheny said.
Councilman Vickers says he's heard a lot of comments from people in the community, and 90 percent favor some type of indoor smoking ban. The council will hear citizens’ thoughts on this issue during the next city council meeting, which will be on December 18.