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Norcross leaders repeal tobacco-free facilities ordinance

NORCROSS -- City council members voted unanimously Monday to repeal an unpopular ordinance that banned tobacco use in Norcross. The ordinance, originally proposed by councilman Ross Kaul as the result of resident complaints about secondhand smoke, was passed in May of this year. Once it became law, however, residents complained of over-reaching government and the loss of personal choice and civil liberties.

"This went from being a 'quality of life' issue to an 'intrusion by government' issue," said Kaul, who insisted Monday that the intent of the ordinance was to protect residents' rights, not infringe upon them.

Residents who spoke on the matter Monday disagreed, asking Mayor Bucky Johnson and council members to repeal the ordinance and then embark on a public education campaign about secondhand (outdoor) smoke.

Sara Levy, a self-proclaimed "reformed smoker," told city leaders that even though she chooses not to smoke, she believes that people should have a choice as to whether they do. Levy added that designated smoking areas should be clearly marked for outdoor events such as concerts.

Former Norcross council member Keith Shewbert echoed Levy's concerns, adding that it becomes a class issue affecting the city's poorer residents. Shewbert made the point, too, that the tobacco-free ordinance adversely impacts Norcross businesses.

"We have to make it easy to do business here," he said. "I think this was a solution in search of a problem."

Council members weighed in on the issue Monday also, agreeing that although residents have had months to provide input on the ordinance, a law this sweeping and cutting edge was enacted too quickly without all the pertinent facts and resident feedback.

"I think the message is clear. We went too far," councilman Charlie Riehm said.

In the coming months, residents can expect to see city leaders further researching the foundation for a more appropriate tobacco ordinance in Norcross.

Property rezoned for tree service company

The property located at 484 North Norcross Tucker Road was rezoned Monday in order to accommodate a tree service business. Conditions were attached to the rezoning that disallow residential use of the house, in response to the applicant's request to house security personnel 24 hours a day on the property.

Another condition states that mulch cannot be stored on the premises, as the decaying of shredded bark produces a foul odor.

Neighboring residents stated publicly Monday that they want assurance that city codes will be enforced with respect to parking and residential use of the commercial property.

Comments

Jan 1 year, 9 months ago

With this kind of thinking, I will avoid any trips to Norcross. It can't hurt businesses to enforce no smoking if all businesses are required to do so. The littering of smokers actually cost businesses in the extra cleanup required to pickup behind inconsiderate smokers (I know this is not all smokers but those that think its okay to empty the car ashtray at red lights should be fined heavily.)

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Mack711 1 year, 9 months ago

This went from being a 'quality of life' issue to an 'intrusion by government' issue," said Kaul, who insisted Monday that the intent of the ordinance was to protect residents' rights, not infringe upon them This is the idea behind the defeat of the law. It intruded upon a segment of the citizens rights. We have no right to tell anyone what to do. We can ask however that it not be done except in designated areas.

"I think the message is clear. We went too far," councilman Charlie Riehm said. Yes you did by forcing the views on others who do not share the same views as you.

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Jan 1 year, 9 months ago

Let me make sure I understand this argument. It is okay for someone to blow toxic fumes into public areas, blowing out the poison from their drug habit because they have rights but non-smokers do not have the right to breath fresh air. Seems to me that the bottom line is that the tobacco industry has paid off politicians to support an absurd position. With such logic, it should be okay for someone to urinate on the sidewalk because they have an urge to do so. Ever noticed that not even smokers like second hand smoke? You will see them in cars, holding the cigarette out the window so that passing cars get the fumes and their car doesn't. Next you will be telling me that it is an intrusion of government to prevent me from letting my sewerage run into neighboring creeks instead of requiring septic tanks.

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Mack711 1 year, 9 months ago

It is okay for someone to blow toxic fumes into public areas, blowing out the poison from their drug habit because they have rights but non-smokers do not have the right to breath fresh air.

Ok Jan with this in mind why not park your car because it emits smoke or even your lawnmower that emits more toxic chemicals than cigaretes.With this ruling they are saying that government can not intrude on citizens not to smoke, however it did not say that they could do it any where anytime. Look for them to set up 'certain areas' for them. When they do then you will know exactly where not to go. We cannot tell anyone what they can and can not do, this is something that each individual has to decide for themselves, not me, not you. Just because you and I do not smoke does not give us the right to prevent some one who wants to. Remember that you cannot legislate morality.

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Jan 1 year, 9 months ago

I never said they couldn't smoke, they should keep it in their own yard, as they keep their lawn mowers in their own yard. I use an electric lawnmower to avoid those toxic fumes. This is not a question of morality but one of public health. We require health inspections and certain health standards for food preparation facilities and public swimming pools. In fact most people's food preparation in their homes would not measure up to those required of restaurants. It is not a stretch to restrict smoking in public areas. One strange thing about smoking areas, no one has figured out a way to prevent those concentrated toxic fumes from drifting into the non smoking areas without using a sealed building. It is unfortunate that we do not do a better job of regulating exhaust emissions, not only for health but to combat global warming.

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smokefree 1 year, 9 months ago

I was amazed and thrilled at the same time when I first read about Norcross going smokefree outdoors on city property. It was such a positive sign that was sure to be a trendsetting movement and perhaps the catalyst to spread across the country.

But the tobacco industry, with their clenched fist in a velvet glove, got through to the Norcross law makers.

There is reason to turn this around one more time. You've had a sense that a smokefree environment can be achievable. Let's go out and get it back.

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