After delaying the start of a new smoking ban that was supposed to kick in on Jan. 1, the Gadsden City Council decided on Tuesday to have it start one month later than originally intended, on Feb. 1.
The ordinance was passed in June 2014, but with several new council members coming on at the end of the year, they along with the Public Safety Committee requested more time to study and familiarize themselves with the law.
The ban prohibits smoking in all business and other public spaces, and it creates a 20-foot smoke-free buffer zone from the entrances of the affected businesses. Part of the delay was attributed to questions from business owners who worried that the increased distances would make their employees take longer smoke breaks and therefore be less productive.
There is an exemption in the ordinance for cigar shops and bars, provided that 50 percent of a store’s revenue comes from cigar related purchases. Additionally, the business must have a walk-in humidor. Tobacco retailers without the walk-in humidor, businesses that were once exempted, will now be subject to the ban.
Smoking is still allowed on outdoor patios of establishments, though the sale of food or beverages will not be allowed in those areas to reduce the interaction between employees and smokers.
Gadsden is home to approximately 35,000 people and is the county seat of Etowah County. It is located in the northeastern part of the state, roughly 50 miles northeast of Birmingham.