By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
A bill expanding the area where smoking is banned was the subject of a public hearing held by the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday. The bill is be known as the “Alabama Smoke-free Air Act of 2012”
SB198 was introduced by sponsor and Senator Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile), and is co-sponsored by Senators J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner (R-Birmingham), Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), Jerry Fielding (D-Calhoun, Coosa, Elmore, Talladega), Linda Coleman (D-Birmingham), Tammy Irons (D-Florence), Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), Quinton Ross, Jr. (D-Montgomery), Billy Beasley (D-Clayton), Harri Anne Smith (I-Slocomb), President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston), Senators Gerald Dial (R-Lineville), Marc Keahey (D-Grove Hill), Greg Reed (R, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Winston), Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) and Roger Bedford, Jr. (D-Russellville).
Existing law is the Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act that prohibits smoking in certain public places. This bill will repeal that act and establish the Alabama Smoke-free Air Act of 2012. It will prohibit smoking in places of employment and public areas including some outdoor areas. The bill also includes in its definitions “E-cigarettes.”
A fine of $50 will be imposed and will not exceed $100 on the first offense. Second offense is not to exceed $200. The third and subsequent offenses are not to exceed $1,000.
Exemptions are made for private clubs and private residences not used for child or adult care or as a healthcare facility.
The bill states, “The Legislature finds and declares that the purposes of this act are to protect the health and welfare of the public by prohibiting smoking in public places and places of employment and to recognize that the need to breathe smoke free air takes priority over the desire to smoke.”
Areas are to include bars, businesses, playgrounds, bar area within a restaurant, public places, shopping malls, sports arenas and service lines.
It defines a public place as “used by or open to the public including, but not limited to, any of the following:a restaurant, a bar, a retail or service establishment, an educational facility, establishment, laundromat, retail food production and marketing, shopping mall, convention facility, theater or other facility primarily used for exhibiting a performance.”
It also includes a bus or taxicab, and a ticket, boarding, or waiting area of a public transportation depot, a restroom, lobby, reception area, service line, hallway, elevator, or other common use area the public is invited or permitted to enter. A bingo facility or other gaming facility, a hotel or motel, including common areas and guest rooms.
Public walkways at shopping malls or hall area that serves to connect retail, service, or professional establishments.
It further defines a service line as one “in which one or more persons wait for or receive service, whether or not the service involves the exchange of money. A service line includes, but is not limited to, an ATM line, concert line, food vendor line, movie ticket line, and sporting event line.”
The bill will be brought back to committee next week for a vote so the senators can study the bill further before making a decision.