Second Anniversary of Georgia's Smokefree Air Act
July 1 marks the second anniversary of Georgia’s Smokefree Air Act, and the Department of Human Resources (DHR) wants to take this opportunity to provide an update and remind Georgians about the importance of this law.
The primary reason for the enactment of the Smokefree Air Act of 2005 was to reduce secondhand smoke exposure for employees and patrons, particularly children. Smokefree environments make restaurants and public establishments safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable. Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings and restaurants where children under the age of 18 are allowed.
“We aim to protect the public, especially children, from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke,” said Stuart Brown, director of the DHR Division of Public Health. “Secondhand smoke can contribute to or cause severe health problems in both smokers and non-smokers, including cancer, emphysema, heart disease, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS,) and asthma. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke.”
Public health leaders are serious about enforcing the Smokefree Air Act. A person smoking in violation of the law will be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than $100 and not more than $500. Leaders in tobacco use prevention are hopeful that most managers of restaurants and public buildings are maintaining smoke free environments in places where children may visit. Mechanisms are in place to capture and analyze this information.
One of the questions on the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey asked adults employed outside of their homes if their worksites had a formal policy restricting or prohibiting smoking. Public health epidemiologists are currently analyzing that data, and the results should be available later this summer. Whether or not a restaurant is in compliance with the act is part of the new Food Service Inspection process.
As this new inspection process becomes effective December 1, 2007, data will be collected and we will be able to monitor restaurants’ compliance with the Smokefree Air Act. The Smokefree Air Act provides cleaner and safer environments in which to live, work, and play. Environments that are free from secondhand smoke improve the quality of life in Georgia.
Smoking is prohibited in any place in which a non-smoking sign is posted. If you would like to download a free No Smoking sign, or would like more information about the Smokefree Air Act please visit http://dhr.georgia.gov/gasmokefreeair.
DHR continues to receive calls and emails from employees, managers, and restaurant patrons when they observe individuals smoking in a restaurant or public building. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-343-3340 toll free with questions or to file a complaint.