Fulton council set to approve smoking ordinance

Now that Fulton voters have given the okay to a ban on smoking inside city businesses, the Fulton City Council is set to enact an ordinance to help with enforcement of that ban.

Voters Tuesday approved Fresh Air Fulton’s question to prohibit smoking in enclosed places of employment, including restaurants and bars, with 53.85 percent of the vote. On Nov. 9, the council will hear first reading on a new ordinance based on Fresh Air Fulton’s proposal, with final approval likely to come in December.

“The ordinance as presented in the petition was placed in a city format this morning and we are anticipating first reading next week,” Fulton Director of Administration Bill Johnson said Wednesday, noting second reading is slated for Nov. 23, with third and final reading to take place at the Dec. 14 meeting. “The law takes effect 30 days after the ordinance is passed.

“At the latest, it should take effect sometime in mid-January.”

Assistant Director of Administration Matt Harline said Johnson and City Clerk Carolyn Laswell wrote the ordinance to “keep it as close as possible to the language of the petition.”

According to Fresh Air Fulton’s proposed ordinance, “smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed places of employment within the City of Fulton, including but not limited to: Areas available to the general public in businesses patronized by the public, including but not limited to, banks, laundromats, professional offices, and retail establishments; bars; child care and adult day care facilities; convention facilities; educational facilities, both public and private; libraries and museums; restaurants; restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways, stairways, break rooms, and other common-use areas; retail stores; and theaters.”

Also according to the Fresh Air Fulton ordinance, owners will be required to post “No Smoking” signs and remove ashtrays from areas where smoking is prohibited by the ordinance. Employers are not allowed to fire, refuse to hire or retaliate against an employee or customer “because that employee, applicant or customer exercises any rights afforded by this article.”

The Fresh Air Fulton proposal states: “An owner, manager, operator, or employee of an establishment regulated by this Article shall direct a person who is smoking to extinguish the product being smoked. If the person does not stop smoking, the owner, manager operator, or employee shall refuse service and shall immediately ask the person to leave the premises. If the person in violation refuses to leave the premises, the owner, manager, operator, or employee shall contact a law enforcement agency.”

Anyone who smokes in an area where smoking is prohibited will be guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine not exceeding $50. Any person who owns, manages, operates or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment and fails to comply with the ordinance will be guilty of an infraction and fined up to $100 for the first violation, up to $200 for the second violation within one year and up to $500 for each additional violation within one year. According to the proposed ordinance violation of the ordinance by any person who owns, manages, operates or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment also “may result in the suspension or revocation of any permit or license issued to the person for the premises on which the violation occurred.”

Laswell said the council must approve the ordinance “because it was passed by a vote of the people.”

“It’s just a matter of procedure and means of enforcement,” she said of the draft ordinance to be presented on Nov. 9.

Once the ordinance receives final approval from the council, Johnson said the city will mail out a notice to everyone that has purchased a Fulton Business License whose business is within the city limits.

“Now that citizens have had a chance to vote, we will proceed with implementation,” he said.

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