By a 7-2 vote, the Rome City Commission approved a new smoking ordinance.
Beginning April 1st, smoking will be prohibited in the Broad Street District, the Town Green Park, all downtown parking decks managed by the Downtown Development Authority within the Broad Street District, the public area of Bridgepoint Plaza, and in all enclosed areas within places of employment.
There are some exceptions including public places and places of employment declared to be smoking environments by displaying appropriate signage.
Representatives from Floyd Medical Center, Redmond Regional Medical Center and Harbin Clinic all spoke in support of the ordinance.
“The majority of the folks I see who have cancer have a smoking history,” said Harbin Clinic Radiation Oncologist Dr. Matt Mumber. “So, there is obviously the need to try to limit that number as much as possible. As a business owner and a property owner in Downtown Rome, I would prefer an environment where people can go downtown without having to worry about their health being compromised in some way.”
Dr. Lisa Davis, a local pediatrician and member of the Rome City School Board also spoke in favor.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics is clear in its policy statement,” she said. “Smoking and the use of tobacco products that produce an emission should be banned in outdoor areas frequented by children. This includes sidewalks, recreational facilities, and entertainment venues. This position is to protect children from involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke.”
City Commissioner Evie McNiece voted in favor of the ordinance but had this challenge for the medical community.
“You know what the power of nicotine will do,” she said. “To just legislate and tell people they cannot smoke on Broad Street will not be a deterrent. We need you all out there doing everything you possibly can. Whether it’s talking to them, whether it’s information or classes, whatever it is, you all have that responsibility. Just as the commission has the responsibility to do what is best for the city.”
Gena Agnew, CEO of the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition said that her organization has offered to make smoking cessation classes and nicotine replacement therapy available for any Broad Street employees who want to quit.
Commissioner Bill Irmscher voted against the ordinance.
“I am 100% for education, but I’m against regulation,” he said.
Commissioner Wendy Davis also cast a “No” vote.
“I am very concerned about what feels like government overreach or an anti-business perception,” she said. “However, it seems from our conversations it’s going to pass. So, I’ll tell you that I am 100% with you to work on the cultural change.”
You can read the ordinance amendment in its entirety here.