SAVANNAH — A new ordinance that bans smoking in numerous locations is about to take effect in Savannah, and smokers and businesses are preparing to deal with the restrictions.
The rules, effective with the start of the new year, ban smoking in bars, bowling alleys, outdoor stadiums, private clubs and even when standing outdoors in a service line.
The ban affects cigarettes, cigars, pipes and even electronic cigarettes.
Breatheasy Savannah, the organization backing the tighter restrictions, has strong support from health-care professionals and from music fans eager to visit nightclubs without smelling like an ashtray.
Breatheasy supplies kits that include signs to alert customers and a tape measure so that businesses know where to draw the line to meet a requirement for smoking to be kept 10 feet from an entrance.
Bar owners, patrons and others argued that customers and employees have a choice about whether to visit or work in a smoky environment. They warn that smokers will crowd onto sidewalks or city squares.
Smokers spoke up for what they consider their rights.
"I don’t want to smell the smoke in a restaurant. I agree with that," Matt Crider of Wilmington Island said Monday during a cigarette break in downtown Savannah.
"But at a bar, there’s an age limit. If you aren’t 21, you don’t get in. And to make someone of legal age go outside to smoke a cigarette, that is wrong."
At Tapas by Anna in City Market, co-owner Frank Cavalieri’s outdoor space is larger than his indoor, and he could establish smoking tables near the main door. He thinks he will tell patrons only the farthest tables on the brick courtyard are for
"If you’re eating, it’s just polite to get up from the table and go smoke somewhere else," he said. "It’s like talking on the cell phone if you’re on a date, you just don’t do it. It’s common courtesy."
Penalties call for a $100 fine on the first offense for smokers or business owners. Owners face $200 for the second fine and $500 for each subsequent instance within a year.
Police say they won’t be popping into bars to look for smokers, but will respond when a business owner asks for help in getting compliance.