Alexandria, La., residents who plan to ignore the city’s expanded smoking ordinance better be willing to be a little lighter in the wallet.
The Town Talk reports anyone caught lighting up in a bar or within 25 feet of city property will be fined $100 for a first offense. The fines will increase to $250 for a second offense within a year and $500 for each additional offense.
The same fines will apply to business owners who allow smoking in their facilities.
Originally, however, the fines for smoking were much less.
The City Council enacted the City of Alexandria Smoke-free Air Ordinance of 2011 on Oct. 4, and it will go into full effect on Jan. 2, 2012.
The ordinance bans smoking in all enclosed places of employment “without exception,” as well as within 25 feet of entrances and windows of those buildings, city property and outdoor playgrounds. Smoking also is forbidden in all outdoor arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters, as well as all outdoor places of employment.
Electronic cigarettes will be allowed. The e-cigarettes produce a smoke-like mist that simulates smoking without the harmful effects. A provision banning e-cigarettes, which originally had been pitched over the summer, was removed from the final ordinance adopted by the city.
Mayor Jacques M. Roy and City Attorney Chuck Johnson initially said they had some reservations about a few technical issues with the anti-smoking legislation. The city’s legal team did not draft the original ordinance.
Before it was passed, however, Johnson and contract attorney Trey Gist worked up 10 technical amendments that they said make the ordinance stronger. One of those amendments clarified the fines.
Johnson, however, deferred any comment about the fines to members of the City Council.
“The numerical fines were chosen by the council,” he said. “They would be the parties whom could answer those questions.”
The original fines for “a person who smokes in an area where smoking is prohibited” were $25 for a first violation, $50 for a second and $100 for each additional offense. Those fines were increased to be the same as for owners, managers and operators who fail to comply with the ordinance.
City Council President Roosevelt L. Johnson said the decision to increase the fines for smokers who violate the ordinance was “something that everybody agreed upon.”
“Once we looked at it, once we reviewed it, we thought that was the best thing,” he said.