Tobacco Free Ordinance Passes in Norcross
Tobacco use would be prohibited on all city property, including parks and sidewalks, but not the streets.
At Monday's monthly council meeting, the Norcross City Council voted 3-1 in favor of a no smoking ordinance, banning the use of all tobacco products on city property.
"It's about the quality of life," said Councilman Ross Kaul, who spearheaded the ban. "I just think that everybody feels it's the direction that we should go."
A ban on smoking inside city buildings has been active for some time, so the new Tobacco Free Facilities Ordinance makes it all inclusive: tobacco use would be prohibited on all city property, including parks and sidewalks, but not the streets.
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With Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Hixson officiating the meeting since Mayor Bucky Johnson was absent (therefore, Hixson did not vote), there was a heavy discussion on the matter, even though opinions had been voiced already at the April policy work session and a PDC meeting. Councilmembers raised questions on what exactly the ordinance prohibits and doesn't prohibit.
All tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, would be banned. Additionally, the smoking-designated areas for employees that were implemented before are now gone, but locals are still allowed to smoke in their cars, according to Kaul.
The only councilman who voted against the ban was David McLeroy.
"I don't have a problem with someone walking through the park, smoking, or on the sidewalk," said McLeroy, who's not a smoker himself. "I don't know why they would want to stand on the crosswalk and smoke."
McLeroy believes the restriction is not necessary since most smokers are conscious enough to not blow smoke in others' faces. He added that the no smoking signs in parks would be an eyesore, too.
"If you're a smoker, we're not saying you're a bad person," reasoned Kaul. "We're just saying that our right is stronger than your right; in other words, if you want to smoke, that's fine, but you don't smoke in our presence, so we have to inhale secondary product, which is proved to be worse than primary product."
This ordinance is only a baby step, said Kaul, and revisions more than likely will follow. Because it's a new ordinance, fines and policing the new law have not been placed yet.
Other items on Monday's meeting agenda:
-Lifelong Norcross resident Edwin Moulder was presented a proclamation celebrating his 95th birthday.
-The Transportation Investment Act project list was approved, with the actual act to be voted on July 31.
-The following items on the consent agenda were approved: the Safe Routes to School policy for Summerour Middle School; adding a fourth severe weather device near Norcross High School; the budget was amended for Wingo Street property upgrades for the Norcross Police; landscaping projects throughout the city; and an official zoning map of the city.
-The rezoning of three buildings at 5235 and 5225 Langford Drive from C-2 to ODW (from commercial to office distribution warehouse) was approved.
-Two items were tabled: the parking study for extra spaces to be added along Wingo Street and Norcross City Hall, and the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau hotel/motel tax.