Atlanta May Soon Ban Smoking In Public Places

By Beth Leipholtz 04/17/19

Atlanta already passed a smoking ban for outdoor parks in 2012.

Man smoking in Atlanta where the state may ban smoking in public

Under a new bill, Atlanta, Georgia could soon join the growing number of cities that have banned smoking in public places. 

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the new legislation would prohibit smoking in various public spaces, including Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (by getting rid of smoking lounges), restaurants and bars, hotels, motels, stores, offices, public transit, restrooms and parking structures.

Smoking within five feet of the entrances of such places, windows and ventilation systems would also be prohibited, the AJC reports. 

“If people wish to smoke in public, we simply ask that they step outside,” said city council member Matt Westmoreland. “Legislation like this saves lives. It creates a safer, healthier city.”

In 2012, Atlanta passed a smoking ban for outdoor parks. Under the proposed legislation, the definition of smoking would be expanded to also include e-cigarettes or vaping. However, this excludes facilities like cigar bars and hookah lounges that meet certain sales thresholds. 

Some restaurants in the area already ban smoking while others allow it, according to the AJC. This is because back in 2005, Georgia passed what it called a smoke-free law, which allowed restaurants and bars to allow smoking under certain circumstances. 

Currently, according to Georgia Restaurant Association CEO Karen Bremer, it’s estimated that less than 10% of restaurants in the area allow smoking.

Tommy Webb, owner of Northside Tavern, currently allows it but says he is open to the idea of becoming a non-smoking space.

“People have been pushing me to go to non-smoking… It is a question that comes up often and I’m caught in the middle,” Webb told the AJC. “I’m rolling with the times.”  

Officials at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport—the country's busiest airport—have been planning to convert existing smoking lounges into shops or restaurants. According to the AJC, the airport is one of only five in the U.S. that still allows smoking.

Delta Air Lines, based in Atlanta, expressed in a statement that the airline supports the idea of a smoke-free airport. “Employees and customers who work and travel through ATL every day deserve a safe and healthy environment,” the statement read. 

Moving forward, Westmoreland says he plans to hold a work session in May during which the ordinance would be discussed.

If approved by committees and the full council, the ordinance may be in effect by September 1 of this year. 

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.