AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - In just a couple of months, the smoke free ordinance goes into effect in Augusta – Richmond County. Smokers will have to smoke a "reasonable" distance from private businesses and clubs or that business can be fined.
With a stroke of his pen, Mayor Hardie Davis signs the smoke free ordinance into effect for January 1st in Richmond County .
"Those individuals who don't smoke know that they're going to be able to go into environments in closed spaces knowing they don't have to worry about if there's going to be smoke in the air," says Mayor Davis.
Since 2014, the BreathEasy Coalition has pushed this issue to Commissioners for a cleaner Augusta, but never received enough passing votes. With Augusta recently receiving a rank of 124th from all 159 Georgia counties for health, BreathEasy says it paints a picture that more needs to be done.
"We have people being diagnosed with lung cancer in their 40's who have never ever smoked a cigarette. But both of their parents smoked in their home for 18-years before they left & got a job on their own," says Martha Tingen, Director of Tobacco Control for GA Cancer Center
Also with Doctor's saying second hand smoke can be just as deadly as smoking itself, Officials in Augusta want people walking into restaurants or private businesses to not deal with those potential risks starting next year.
"Second hand smoke does affect people's health. It harms the health of 1400 Georgians who die every year from second hand smoke," says Danielle Wong Moores, a BreathEasy Coalition representative.
Business owners can face violations anywhere from $100 to $500 and risk losing their business licenses. BreathEasy says it is working to create signs to put on the doors of establishments stating that it's smoke free.