Norcross Repeals City-Wide Smoking Ban

In a unanimous vote, City Council admits “we went too far”

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

NORCROSS, GA – An ordinance that would have banned smoking on sidewalks and public parks in the Georgia city of Norcross is no more. Passed by the city in February and scheduled to begin Monday July 2nd, the ban faced some outspoken critiques from concerned citizens at a public comment session held the same day as the law would have gone into effect.

"It's a far over-reach and it makes people worry, what will be next?" said former councilman Keith Shubert at the comment session. "Will it be what kind of food will you serve?"

With the ordinance also banning the use of smokeless tobacco products, Norcross retailers expressed concerns that such extreme measures could deter consumers.

"The business owners felt it was too onerous," said Pat Eidt, the Norcross Downtown Development Authority Chairman. "They had several people say they wouldn't come back."

The ordinance was originally proposed by Councilman Ross Kaul in response to resident complaints about secondhand smoke. However at last week's meeting, not a single Norcross resident spoke in favor of the ban.

For his part, Kaul said the ordinance "went from being a 'quality of life' issue to an 'intrusion by government' issue."

In response to the public outcry, the Norcross City Council voted unanimously to repeal the unpopular ordinance and immediately lift the tobacco ban.

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

That's not to say Norcross might revisit the idea of protecting citizens from secondhand smoke in the future. Kaul said he was open to revisiting a less extreme tobacco ban – but he plans on letting the issue go for the time being.