‘Just Say No’ to Savannah’s Proposed Smoking Ban, says IPCPR

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The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is urging smokers and non-smokers alike to ‘just say no’ to the Savannah City Council’s proposed smoking ban extension that would include virtually all workplaces, including smoke shops.

The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is urging smokers and non-smokers alike to ‘just say no’ to the Savannah City Council’s proposed smoking ban extension that would include virtually all workplaces, including smoke shops.

The second opportunity for comment on the issue will be at the Quarterly Town Hall Meeting to be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28 in the Savannah Civic Center Ballroom. The proposal would eliminate current exemptions in the Georgia law by making all workplaces smoke-free. This includes all indoor and outdoor areas of bars, restaurants, private clubs and other businesses, including cigar stores and within 20 feet from the entrance to any such workplace.

“What no one needs is more of government telling people what they can and cannot do,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The IPCPR is an association of some 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and accoutrements. These are, by and large, small, family businesses that have been passed on from generation to generation. According to McCalla, they do not represent what most people would classify as ‘big tobacco.’

“Our members hire neighborhood folks, pay all kinds of local, state and federal taxes, including taxes that fully support SCHIP – the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Without tobacco taxes, SCHIP would disappear,” he said.

McCalla said that levels of secondhand smoke in virtually all working establishments are well within the safe standards set by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He also cited a paper funded by the Lung Association and published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine that puts the passive consumption of secondhand smoke at 0.009 cigarettes an hour in a bar and 0.001 at a bus stop.

“That means bartenders would get exposure to roughly 20 cigarettes per year which isn’t enough to do anyone any harm,” he said.

In addition to dismissing the overreaching claims against the impact of secondhand smoke, McCalla said legislative smoking bans tend to be unconstitutional and could lead to usurpation of civil rights.

“Jobs and businesses truly are at stake here, as well as the rights of business owners to declare whether or not smoking should be allowed in their establishments. If government was to declare no smoking in its facilities, then so be it. If a restaurant owner decides that his place of business will allow smoking, then that’s his right, as well. If patrons and potential employees don’t want to patronize a place that allows smoking, they have the right to go somewhere else,” he said.

McCalla urged all Savannah citizens, all Georgians and everyone else to attend the hearing or call the City Council at 912-651-6441 or the office of Mayor Otis Johnson at 912-651-6444 to voice their objection to the proposal.

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Tony Tortorici
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