AUGUSTA, GA — July 27, 2021 — Today, the Augusta-Richmond County Commission will consider weakening the county’s popular smoke-free ordinance, amending the policy to establish cigar lounges in order to allow cigar smoking in certain indoor spaces.
The nation’s leading public health groups including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and American Lung Association are urging commissioners to oppose the motion and protect the smoke-free ordinance that has safeguarded the health of residents, workers and non-smokers in the county since 2018.
The following statement is on behalf of the above groups ahead of today’s meeting.
“We’re extremely concerned about today’s proposal that would allow cigar smoking in certain spaces through the establishment of ‘cigar lounges’— creating a loophole in effective protections for residents that would jeopardize the health of workers and patrons alike.
“Secondhand cigar smoke is just as dangerous as smoke from cigarettes and ventialition systems do not remove the carcinogens present in the air. Numerous studies over the past two decades have repeatedly shown that the only way to protect people from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke is to not allow smoking inside a building.
“The fiscal and health toll of tobacco use in Georgia is already too high, as tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease statewide. Rolling back such effective protections would allow harmful secondhand smoke back into certain indoor places, placing everyone at risk.
“No one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck, especially not when Augusta’s workers have continually risked their health to serve the public and make a living throughout the pandemic.
“The right to breathe clean, smoke-free air has never been as important as it is today. Our organizations urge the commission to uphold the health of residents and workers and oppose this dangerous exemption. Now is the time for county commissioners to do everything they can to protect public health — not compromise it.”
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.