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Know the Laws

Georgia Smokefree Air Act of 2005:

In May 2005, Governor Sonny Perdue signed the Georgia Smokefree Air Act into law. Effective July 1, 2005, the new law prohibits smoking inside most public areas and outlines specific guidelines for allowing smoking in and around establishments that serve the public. However, the Act does allow for more restrictive local laws, rules, and regulations that are currently in place or may be passed in the future.


How is this law helpful to me?

This law is helpful because it reduces your exposure to secondhand smoke and its associated risks. Tobacco use, particularly smoking, is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Eliminating smoking in public places will reduce the number of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths, which number more than 11,000 each year in Georgia alone. This law provides cleaner and safer environments for us to live, work, and play.

Where is smoking NOT allowed?
  • Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed facilities, including buildings owned, leased, or operated by the State or local governing authorities.
  • Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places except as indicated in code section 31-12A-6.
  • Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas within places of employment unless authorized in code section 31-12A-6.  Examples include:
    • Restaurants and bars, except as noted in exemptionsCommon work areas
    • Medical facilities
    • Auditoriums
    • Cafeterias
    • Classrooms
    • Stairs
    • Private offices
    • Restrooms
    • Elevators
    • Hallways
    • Employee lounges
    • Conference rooms
    • Meeting rooms
    • All other enclosed facilities
  • An owner, operator, manager or other person in control of an establishment, facility or outdoor area may declare an entire area as a non-smoking area.
  • The owner, operator, manager or other person in control of any area in which smoking is prohibited must remove all ashtrays.
  • Smoking is prohibited wherever a no-smoking sign is posted.
Where is smoking allowed?
  • Bar and restaurants
    • All bars and restaurants that deny access to any person under the age of 18 and that do not employ individuals under the age of 18.
    • Private rooms in restaurants and bars if the rooms are enclosed and have an air handling system independent from the main air system that serves all other areas of the building and all air within the private room is exhausted directly to the outside by an exhaust fan of sufficient size.
  • Hotel and motel rooms that are rented to guests and are designated as smoking rooms.
  • Long-term care facilities as defined in the law.
  • Private and semiprivate rooms in health care facilities licensed under code section 31-8-81 that are occupied by one or more persons. Written authorization is required from the treating physician to smoke.
  • Outdoor areas of places of employment.
  • Designated smoking areas in international airports.
  • All workplaces of any manufacturer, importer or wholesaler of tobacco products, of any tobacco leaf dealer or processor of tobacco products, all tobacco storage facilities and other facilities listed in code section 10-13A-2.
  • Retail tobacco stores, provided that secondhand smoke does not infiltrate to areas where smoking is prohibited.
  • Smoking areas designated by an employer
    • The designated smoking area must be for employees only, must be located in a non-work area and must have an independent air handling system. This exemption does not apply to restaurants and bars.
  • Convention facility meeting rooms and public and private assembly rooms within a convention facility that is not leased or operated by the state or local governing authority while used for private functions. Individuals under age 18 are prohibited from attending or working as an employee during the function.
  • Common work areas, conference rooms, meeting rooms and private offices in private places of employment, other than medical facilities that open to the general public by appointment only. However, smoking is still prohibited in any public reception area of such place of employment.
  • Private clubs, military officer clubs and noncommissioned officer clubs.
  • Private residences are exempt from the general rule that smoking is prohibited except when used as a licensed child care, adult daycare or healthcare facility
What are the penalties?
  • A person smoking in violation of the law will be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than $100 and not more than $500. A business that allows smoking in violation of the law can be fined through the process of injunctive relief where the amount of the fine will be determined by the court.

Complaints/ Violation Reporting:

Cobb & Douglas Public Health strives to maintain a healthy community. Please report any smoking complaints by visiting the following link and completing the form Georgia Smokefree Air Act of 2005 – Complaint Form | Georgia Department of Public Health.  Anonymous complaints will not be accepted or investigated.  The identity of the complainant shall remain confidential.


Georgia Controlled Substances Act:

Georgia law states that possession of marijuana and THC, including in vape pens, can result in a felony charge.  If your vape has any kind of substance containing THC in it (oil, wax, etc.), you can be arrested for felony possession of drugs under Georgia’s drug statutes. Even if there is just a small amount of residue in it, it is usually enough for the charge. Georgia law states that any marijuana that has been altered from its state in plant form is a felony offense no matter the weight.


Georgia Tobacco 21 Law (T21):

As of July 22, 2020, the sell or barter, directly or indirectly, any cigarettes, tobacco products, tobacco related objects, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products to anyone under the age of 21 years is illegal in Georgia.

There has been an alarming increase in the use of tobacco products, e-cigarettes and flavored delivery systems among youth and young adults. Almost 1 of every 5 high school students in Georgia are current tobacco users of cigarettes, hookah, cigars, smokeless tobacco, or electronic cigarettes (Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2019). As a licensed tobacco retailer, you play an important role ensuring the success of reducing access and use of tobacco products by complying with the Tobacco 21 law.

Retailers are responsible for upholding the law. Compliance checks are conducted and enforced on a continuous basis to ensure retailers are following federal and state Tobacco 21 laws that prohibit the sale of all tobacco products. Failure to comply with the Tobacco 21 law will result in a misdemeanor.

  • Retailer must display Tobacco 21 signage in clearly visible locations
  • Use a state-issued driver’s license, military ID, and passport to verify individuals’ age
  • Train all staff on the following steps for every tobacco sale
    • Ask for valid ID from everyone attempting to purchase tobacco products
    • Check ID to make sure everyone is 21 years and older
    • Refuse to sell tobacco products to everyone under 21

Your Questions Answered about the GA Tobacco 21 Law.

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