After several weeks of delay, on Tuesday the Augusta Commission approved an expansion to the city’s smoking ban that will snuff out smoking in bars and several other public places. The ordinance passed by a 6-4 vote, and also applies to the use of e-cigarettes.
The ban also applies to all vehicles, buildings and enclosed areas owned, leased or operated by the city, as well as outdoor property adjacent to such buildings. It also includes a ban on smoking within 10 feet of all of these places.
There are a few exceptions to the ban, namely e-cigarette stores and hookah bars and lounges that are in existence as of the bill’s passage. Cigar lounges were not mentioned in the ordinance, however; according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers’ Association website, there is one member store in Augusta.
The changes will go into effect in 30 days, and with them come fines for both smokers and business owners. Individuals who smoke or use e-cigarettes where they are prohibited can face a fine of up to $50, while a business owner who allows smoking will face a first-time fine of $100, while a second violation within a year doubles the fine to $200, and each subsequent violation jumps to $500 per occurrence.
Augusta is home to approximately 197,000 residents.