When it comes to updating their smoking ordinance, Augusta officials seem intent on reinventing the wheel.
Despite their characteristic gridlock, in this case there’s no need for them to wrangle over details that have been worked out for them.
How? Because it’s already been done – right here in Columbia County.
The ordinance prohibiting smoking in most publicly accessed places in Columbia County, spearheaded by then-county commissioner Tom Mercer, went into effect in 2005. Those predicting gloom and doom as a result soon quieted down when it became obvious that the stricter law wasn’t going to put anyone out of business.
A statewide smoking law later went into effect, but its loopholes are large enough that smoking continues in Augusta’s bars, a key complaint from business competitors in Columbia County.
Now, with continued push from the Richmond County Board of Health and the American Cancer Society, Augusta at last is looking to close the loopholes.
Commissioners, however, are bogged down in details, such as whether to ban “electronic” cigarettes. They’re also contemplating restrictions that are even tougher than Columbia County’s – such as prohibiting smoking for people in line at ATMs.
Richmond County commissioners should just scrap their plan before they drown in minutia. Columbia County’s has worked just fine for more than six years, and is readily available.
There certainly is no need to reinvent the wheel when our rules are rolling along quite nicely.