Business owners say possible smoke-free ordinance can hurt sales

Business owners say possible smoke-free ordinance can hurt sales
Business owners react to possible smoke free ordinance

RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - Business owners are speaking out against a proposed smoking ban in Richmond County.

On Tuesday, the city attorney presented a draft of the possible ordinance. A repeat offender could face a citation up to $500 for smoking within 10 feet from a business or bar, if a proposed smoke-free ordinance passes. The proposed ban is sparking some concerns and some business owners fear they will lose out more on the money.

"Some bars will survive obviously because people are going to drink but I'll say you probably lose around 30 to 35%. That would be my guess," says Bryan Birmingham, owner of Aliie Katz & Bar Grill.

Birmingham is one of several business owners frustrated at the thought of city leaders passing a smoking ban. He owns a bar on Washington Road that allows people to smoke inside. "If you don't want to go to a bar with there is smoking, don't. There are other bars in Augusta that don't allow smoking," he says.

The BreathEasy coalition has proposed the ordinance citing other cities like Savannah, that have adopted smoke-free ordinances and businesses didn't experience a decrease in sales.

"There's been national studies done that show across the united states examining smoke-free laws in every state that has been that there's been a negligible impact on businesses economically," says Danielle Wong - Moores.

The Coalition says its proposal won't include outdoor events and arenas and will exempt vape and hookah shops. But still business owners like Birmingham say most of his customers come to his bar because they can smoke. "My right is to light up a cigarette or not light up a cigarette, not to force somebody else not to light up a cigarette."

Both sides say they're looking forward to the workshop where data will be shared and maybe a middle ground can be met. But one thing is for certain, this ordinance won't get passed without a fight.

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