Macon, Georgia – Two Georgia-based associations of premium tobacco retailers have warned the Macon City Council that the ordinance it is considering to restrict smoking in most indoor public places would be putting local jobs and small businesses at risk for no reason.
The ordinance under consideration would ban smoking at indoor public establishments such as bars and restaurants but would allow smoking on streets or in open public areas.
"This is no time to be putting jobs and small businesses at risk," said Jim Luftman, president of the Atlanta-based Georgia Premium Retail Tobacconists Association. "Business owners have the right to declare whether or not smoking would be allowed on the premises just as customers have the right to patronize them or not. Legislated smoking bans take away those rights from both groups."
The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association also warned of potential job, business and tax revenue losses from such a ban.
"No less authority than the Federal Reserve Bank, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is on record showing that smoking bans cost jobs and hurt businesses while putting them at a disadvantage to other competing businesses in surrounding areas," said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR based in Columbus, Georgia.
"When government takes away from restaurant and other business owners their right to decide how to run their businesses, it is exceeding its authority and acting unconstitutionally. It is attacking the rights of smokers and non-smokers, alike," he said.
And it’s all so unnecessary, according to McCalla.
"Safe levels of secondhand smoke have been set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and they are 25,000 times safer than the air quality levels normally found in bars and restaurants that allow smoking," he said.
According to McCalla, many of the IPCPR’s retail members sell their premium tobacco products to restaurants and bars who, in turn, sell them to their customers.
"To ban smoking in Macon restaurants and bars will severely reduce these sales which will translate into reduced excise, sales, and income tax revenues for Macon and the state of Georgia," he said.
McCalla and Luftman urged all Macon residents to contact their council representatives and urge them to vote against the unnecessary smoking ban.