City of Birmingham finds smoking ban violations

For some people here in the Magic City a Friday or Saturday night on the town may not look the same.{}A new Birmingham ordinance bans smoking from any public place.{}The law went into effect just a couple of months ago, but a few violations has city leaders taking action.{}The ban states that smoking is no longer allowed inside any establishment{}and smokers must stay 7 feet away from the building.{}For many restaurants and bars, they simply move out to the patio area,{}but the city of Birmingham is finding not everyone is obeying that law."They said that they knew, but they were going to allow people to smoke until they got caught. And of course, subsequently, the authorities got involved," Johnathan Austin, Birmingham City Councilor said.When about a half dozen restaurants and bars decided not to comply with the new law the city began sending letters."Basically we are just letting them know, this is the law, you are responsible for upholding the law at your establishment," Austin said."Somebody will tell you that you can't smoke but two tables over, a lady and her husband are smoking," a smoker who wished to remain anonymous said.People who smoke seem to have varying opinions about the new rule."I would gladly step outside of any establishment as I would anyone's house - I'll step outside and respect their rules on the inside," Gregory Harris, who smokes said. "But if they tell me not to smoke on their patio but instead to go into the street, then as you can see, that's where the absurdity comes in."{}"As far as going to a bar, I don't see why people would go down there now when they could smoke cigarettes at home or drink beer at home," an anonymous smoker told us."I really support the smoking ban because I have asthma," Kelly Burns, a Birmingham resident said. "A lot of times when I would go into a bar when there was a lot of smoking, I would start to have trouble breathing.{}Once the smoking ban went into effect, I noticed a huge difference."{}But the way the city found out about the violations wasn't through law enforcement..."It was from other patrons,'' Austin said. "They called and complained about businesses. They called and said, 'hey we thought there was no smoking, there was a law that was passed. This bar or this restaurant is still allowing this to continue.' Obviously the citizens want it because they are the ones prompting us to write these letters because we are finding out from them that people are violating the law."{}If business owners are caught violating the law{}they will be issued citations with heftier amounts each time they're caught. And if they continue they could lose their license.


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