Birmingham's city council has passed a tough new smoking ordinance.
In the council's chambers on Tuesday, those for and against the new City of Birmingham Smoke Free Ordinance got a chance to speak their mind. More than 31 concerned citizens got 3 minutes each at the meeting to argue for and against this new ordinance.
The City of Birmingham’s old smoking ordinance banned smoking in bars and restaurants. The ban allowed the businesses to make the choice to allow smoking or not. The new ordinance has banned smoking in all public places.
Speakers today included Secretary of State Beth Chapman, the President of the United Way, doctors, ministers and members of the West End community. They were all in support of the ban, saying the city needs to stand up and protect the health of its citizens.
Many of those who spoke out against the ban were business owners who say the city has not done a good job communicating the details of the ban and were upset that the city waited until last night to put up a revised version of the ordinance. The owner of the Blue Monkey Lounge in Five Points South spoke at the meeting and said he wants the ordinance to allow smoking on businesses patios. Under the ban, patio smokers will be required to stay 5 feet away from entrances. An amendment changed the distance from the door to 7 feet.
Other amendments that were passed by the city council allowed for the use of electronic cigarettes and set the minimum at 80% of sales from tobacco for cigar bars to get an exemption.
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