Georgia Bill Restricting Vaping in Public Gets Approval
Georgia lawmakers have granted their final approval to a bill aimed at restricting vaping in public spaces. The state House voted 152-14 to pass Senate Bill 47, which would enforce vaping regulations in the same way that the state already regulates smoking. The bill now awaits the signature or veto of Gov. Brian Kemp.
Georgia’s Smoke-Free Air Act, established in 2005, already prohibits smoking indoors in many public places. However, some establishments, such as tobacco stores, bars that only permit patrons over the age of 18, and privately owned convention rooms, are exempt from the law.
The new bill puts vaping on the same level as smoking cigarettes, according to House Public Health Committee Chairman Sharon Cooper, a Republican from Marietta. She clarified that the bill does not expand anything, but simply restricts vaping in areas where smoking is already prohibited.
A violation of the new law is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine ranging from $100 to $500. The Georgia Department of Public Health supports the measure, citing 42 cases of vaping-associated illnesses and six deaths in the state in 2019.
As vaping gains popularity, it is important to regulate its use in public spaces to protect the health and well-being of the general public. It remains to be seen whether Gov. Kemp will sign the bill into law or veto it, but Georgia is taking a step forward in controlling the use of e-cigarettes in public.