Decatur Posts “No Smoking” Signs To Advertise Sidewalk Ordinance


Back in 2012, Decatur instituted a smoking ban at sidewalk tables and there areas around them in downtown Decatur.  Restaurants with sidewalk tables were told that they would be expected to enforce the rule and educate their patrons of the ordinance.

Just in the past week or so, Decatur has put up new “Fresh Air Zone” signs in the downtown dining district that inform folks that there is “No Smoking in and around Decatur’s outdoor dining areas”.

Commissioner Patti Garrett mentioned the signs at last Monday’s commission meeting, stating “they are really nicely designed and attractive and a great reminder that we are breathing around there while we’re eating.”

Commissioner Garrett also mentioned that once Oakhurst’s streetscape improvements are completed the signs will be put up around restaurants in that downtown district as well.

97 thoughts on “Decatur Posts “No Smoking” Signs To Advertise Sidewalk Ordinance”

  1. Does this include Starbucks and Dancing Goats, or just places with pouring licenses? I hope it includes Steinbeck’s. I hate sitting out there and then having somebody come out from the bar for a smoke two feet from me.

    1. It’s defined in the ordinance. “In” = tables within a restaurant’s sidewalk table area (filed for permit); “Around” = Within five feet of the table area’s border.

    2. Yes. And in and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there (but not smoking…)

  2. I wonder if there will be any backlash? I remember the controversy years ago when DeKalb County was proposing the no smoking ordinance in bars/restaurants (?). Restaurant owners were afraid they would lose a lot of patrons. Didn’t see to happen…

  3. So when it comes to the square, that means smoking is allowed on the upper level but not on the sidewalk level? Was at Square Pub the other night and noticed quite a few people smoking right by the door.

  4. Leon’s and Victory I believe could allow smoking on their patios if they wanted to, as can Java Monkey, the Imperial, U-Joint et al because the outdoor tables are on private property and not city sidewalks. Ted’s, and the places along the Square on Sycamore are among the restauarnts where outside smoking is covered by the ordinance. Again, I seem to remember that the ordinance only applies to places with pouring licenses. Somebody please correct me if I am wrong.

  5. FM Fats is correct. Outdoor dining tables located on private property/patios are not covered by the ordinance. However, regardless of pouring license status which was what we used to initially get the attention of local businesses with sidewalk tables, our position is that Starbucks is covered because their tables are located on city right of way. The placement of tables on city owned sidewalks is a privilege not a right. Therefore we do maintain control over where those tables may be placed and can restrict smoking at these tables. In order to place tables on our sidewalks, we require an approved table plan and this includes the prohibition of smoking.

    1. thanks for clarifying, Lynne. I’m really glad Decatur extended its ‘no smoking’ policy to areas around restaurants. Could you refresh my memory on the city’s No Smoking ordinance (?) inside restaurants and bars? Followup question: assuming we do still have one, can restaurants with private patios not on City property still allow smoking there?

    2. Thanks, Lyn. I passed somebody puffing away at Starbucks today. Next time I’ll say something (in a friendly manner, of course).

  6. I am wondering who is going to enforce this? Are the police going to start handing out smoking tickets? Or will the City pull outdoor dining tables for establishments who don’t enforce with their patrons?

    I am glad to see these signs go up, and hope to see an improvement, but it seems the restaurants and bars haven’t been doing their part.

    1. The restaurant owners could help mightily just by applying a “No Smoking” symbol sticker to the outdoor table tops. It’s harder for a Starbucks or Dancing Goats to enforce because there’s no table service, but a sign of some kind would help. I have politely told smokers outside Ted’s about the ordinance and they tend to be thankful for the information rather than belligerent.

      1. Walked past Starbucks this morning. Saw a Starbucks employee sitting at a table smoking a cigarillo. Perhaps we need back up one step further and educate the restaurants/bars on what the table policy is to begin with!

  7. My question is, when will the ordinance eventually change to disallow smoking in ALL areas of a restaurant, patio included? I see little point in restricting smoking within a restaurant’s building but not on its patio, especially when outside tables are usually close to one another, and smoke could billow constantly from one to another and permeate a relatively large area.

      1. And leave up to patrons who might choose to go else where, such as a restaurant that doesn’t allow any smoking. Still not sure why people think they are entitled to prohibit a private enterprise who choose to cater to adults engaging in a legal activity.

        1. They feel they have a “right” to enter an establishment and have it the way they want it. Forget the rights of the business owner. As you say, consumers can drive these decisions. Enough people stop going because of the smoke, the owner will likely ban smoking.

        2. We’re talking about patios here… Essentially public places… Where many such “legal activities” must be regulated…. I would tend to agree that a restaurant should be able to allow smoking within it’s walls, but then that wouldn’t be a wise business decision. In general, more customers would be alienated than attracted.

          1. That patio is no more a public space than my front yard. Are you suggesting I can’t stand at the edge of the road in my front yard and smoke a cigar?

              1. You also have the choice to not sit on a patio where your overly sensitive self might be exposed to the fumes of passersby.

                1. Nope, nope… Doesn’t work that way. You have it backwards. What you can do in the privacy of your own home or on your own property is far different from what you are allowed to do in public. I believe I’ve already cited several examples, like: Let your dog roam free outside in your private, fenced-in yard to its heart’s delight. But once you take your dog outside the confines of your property, very specific leash laws are in place to protect the public from what your dog might do. Also, this whole conversation is rather moot, because the smoking laws are in place and are going to stay, and are more than likely become even more restrictive, because the preponderance of Decatur Citizens prefer it that way. In other words, if you want to (legally) smoke on the sidewalk near restaurants, you’ll have to head to another municipality. Perhaps somewhere in Idaho? 😉

                  1. You know you don’t have to wink after every post. It makes your lack of understanding of current laws all the more annoying.

                    1. Now y’all are just bickering. If you want to rejoin the conversation (for whatever it’s worth, which may be open to debate at this point), please back up five paces, apologize to the rest of us (never to each other) and get back on topic.

  8. So I guess when I’m out for my cigar strolls I’ll need to step about one foot out into the street when walking by Steinbeck’s.

    1. Yeah, sure… That would be really considerate of you. Or, you could simply not walk by a restaurant at all…. Smdh.

        1. ….while you’re huffing on a cigar….. If my hobby was walking down the street spraying a large can of insect fogger all around me, I could choose not to do it as I walked by a restaurant so as to not offend people as they try to enjoy a meal…. Just sayin.

            1. “Then again, perhaps people can choose not to be so easily offended.”

              An absolutely ridiculous statement. One person’s right to do *anything* cannot necessarily trump the right of others to not be subjected to the consequences of someone exercising that right, a few things like free speech being exceptions. You have the right to pee, for example, but you don’t have the right to pee on other people. Amazing to me how inconsiderate smokers can be sometimes.

              1. “One person’s right to do *anything* cannot necessarily trump the right of others to not be subjected to the consequences of someone exercising that right”

                You are right, but it works both ways. If you assert your rights and prevent a passerby from engaging in a legal activity (i.e. smoking a cigar), you are infringing on his rights. In this case, your whining about cigar smoke subjects the passerby to the consequences of not being able to enjoy his cigar.

                I am a longtime former smoker, and I see this both ways. I don’t like the smell of smoke now, but I choose to not frequent places where I may have to. I don’t insist on imposing my preferences on others.

                1. It most certainly does not work both ways. Legal activities are regulated all the time for reasons exactly like this. You can’t take target practice in your front yard with your Glock in Oakhurst, but you can most certainly do it somewhere else. You can walk your dog but you must keep it on a leash. This could go on forever.

              2. I don’t smoke, but you seem to be saying that you should not be subjected to even a puff of cigar smoke from a passerby. I can only imagine the horror you must feel if subjected to close proximity to grills, smokers, or campfires. At any rate, to compare outdoor cigar smoking to urinating on others is what’s truly ridiculous.

                1. “…you seem to be saying that you should not be subjected to even a puff of cigar smoke from a passerby” Yep, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I can choose to avoid campfires, grills, whatever… Everybody also seems to be forgetting that the law is on the books, so clearly it’s what a majority of Decaturites want. Welcome to Merica! 😉

                  1. “Yep, that’s exactly what I’m saying. ”

                    To do list on the way home:

                    1) Stop at Intown Ace and buy tape measure so I can make sure I stand at last 5 feet from all open patios.

                    2) Stop at cigar shop (can anyone recommend a good one?)

                    A “puff” of cigar smoke, while it may be unpleasant, isn’t going to harm you. We aren’t talking about locking you in a back room poker game with a fog of cigar smoke. What other noxious odors would you like to ban? perfume? cologne? boiled seafood? scented dryer sheets? Stop being a ****y.

                    1. “Stop at Intown Ace and buy tape measure so I can make sure I stand at last 5 feet from all open patios.”

                      At least you agree to abide by the law…. 😉

            2. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Do you spit in public and spatter other people’s shoes? Do you deposit your used tissue or chewed gum on a random stranger’s table as you walk past outdoor seating? Do you leave your dog’s poop lying around in the public right of way? Do you choose to be offended by such behavior? I do. I’m also aggravated when somebody’s tobacco smoke billows around my table where I’m paying to enjoy refreshment. It may or not be illegal, depending on where I’m sitting, but it’s certainly rude.

              1. “I’m also aggravated when somebody’s tobacco smoke billows around my table where I’m paying to enjoy refreshment.”

                Agreed. Me too. But we should not have laws banning it.

                  1. No, it isn’t banned on private patios. You suggested that it should be….because you don’t like freedom.

                    1. Boy, did you miss something huge here. The entire premise of my argument is to protect freedom. One’s freedom do do things cannot, however, inherently inhibit others from enjoying their own ability to do things. It’s essentially the golden rule we’re talking about.

                    2. What freedom of yours is being infringed by having someone next to you smoke on a patio? You want the golden rule put into law, thereby restricting freedom.

                    3. I don’t think the Walrus is the one missing anything here. You are advocating infringing on another’s freedom to protect yours, when yours isn’t being questioned.

                    4. There you go. Walrus had waded back in a bit, but I wasn’t convinced his heart was in this. But “you don’t like freedom” is a signal as big Atlas Shrugged – his return is real.

                    5. So you’re essentially saying that all laws restrict freedom without preserving it? Most if not all laws are founded on the golden rule principle. Maybe we just shouldn’t have any laws. Yeah, that’ll show em.

              2. Ok, it’s rude. Along with 9 million other things. Us long-timer DMers know that you are also annoyed by lightly or un-supervised children in restaurants (me too). Should something be done? Or how about ball caps and tank tops in upscale restaurants? Rude. Loud music from a car stopped at the light just outside Leon’s patio. Hey, I’m trying to enjoy myself here! Someone call the cops!

                Hell is other people, I know. But we need to put up with each other to some degree, and other people affect me even more when they start passing laws at every turn. We’ve all sat at dinner and talked about how rude someone else is being across the retaurant, but it’s a small thing to have to live with.

                1. In STG’s defense, I don’t think she was suggesting passing laws to curb this behavior. She was promoting a little personal courtesy.

                  1. If I read too much into STG’s, I apologize. I thought the general discussion was about what should be permitted as opposed to what courtesy would suggest.

                  2. Yes, thank you, Dawgfan. My comment was primarily a reaction to how this topic consistently plays out in discussion forums like this. People who take a position of safeguarding individual freedom to smoke wind up defending the ability of the boorish to ruin my meal.

                    That said, I do think tobacco smoking should be much more stringently regulated than it is and I believe that eventually it will be. As someone who smoked heavily as a young adult (including on passenger aircraft, that’s how far back my “adulthood” goes!) I’m thankful to have finally outgrown the idea that I was entitled to smoke anywhere I pleased regardless of other people’s discomfort or safety. And I wish that there had been laws in place during all those years to protect my fellow travelers (and fellow diners and commuters, classmates, professors, and neighbors, not to mention the wait staff, bartenders, flight attendants, etc.) from my boorish behavior. There was a time when smoking was reserved for specific times and places, and people even reserved particular garments to wear while partaking.

                    Until and unless there’s a law against it, you can smoke all the tobacco you want. But you can’t subject other people to the smoke against their will and claim you’re standing on the moral high ground while you do it.

                  3. Now I disagree with you. If I choose to enter a restaurant where smoking is permitted, why should I be able to dictate that everyone else cease smoking? Perhaps I should simply choose to go to a different establishment.

                    “But you can’t subject other people to the smoke against their will”

                    If you enter a restaurant where smoking is permitted, aren’t you subjecting yourself to the smoke?

                2. All those other activities don’t cause health issues for restaurant workers (well, brats running around might also).

                  1. So you would be okay with banning perfumes in restaurants, correct? My allergies to some could be deadly, but a whiff of smoke ain’t gonna kill me.

                    1. I’d be ok with banning perfumes that are proven to cause serious or fatal allergic reactions. In fact, I don’t think they should be sold.

                    2. I think the CDC and American Cancer Society might have a quibble with you here. Second-hand smoke is a Group A carcinogen, which makes it plenty more objectionable than its smell or the rudeness of its source.

                    3. A whiff of smoke ain’t gonna kill me, either, nor am I gonna waste time and energy objecting to it. But when a problem arises in this outdoor dining context, it’s because I’m being subjected to more than “a whiff.” It’s either continuous billows from one or more stationary smokers nearby, or serial “whiffs” from one passerby after another. When I’m seated where smoking is not allowed, why should I have to put up with it anyway?

    2. Nah, no need to step away from the patio. Just throw me a fiver for my next beer and we’ll call it even.

  9. I am not a fan of eating dinner and having smoke blown in my face either, but come on.

    Folks are generally pretty considerate — we don’t need laws and signs saying how many inches from a patio someone can hit the cancer sticks. Have a conversation, get up and move, put a voodoo curse on the smoker, whatever, but please, quit trying to regulate and make a law about every little thing.

    In the immortal words of Sgt. Hulka, “Lighten Up, Francis!”

  10. The difference between being exposed to smoking and being exposed to the smell of baloney or the noise of small children is that cumulative second hand smoke exposure has proven health effects.

    1. Thanks, At Home. Smoking around others is like blowing a cloud of the cocaine around others, with somewhat less of a psychotropic effect and an increase in negative health effects–especially to pregnant women and the foetuses they carry.

      Smoking is a public health hazard and as such, it should be covered by the law and not left up to the discretion of bidness owners.

    2. You’re on shaky ground introducing a theoretical argument that noise doesn’t have cumulative health effects (including shrill, unrelenting noise from small children, which adult humans–even childless ones–are genetically programmed to respond to). Not sure how baloney comes into this, unless you’re having a free-association experience triggered by some of what’s been put forth here (from multiple directions). 😉

      1. Decatur does have a noise ordinance that is based on a certain measurable level. That might cover the noise you are describing. Not sure if it’s scientifically based or if it takes into account cumulative exposure.

  11. If we’re talking about an outdoor setting, I have to say that screaming babies are more noxious to me than second-hand smoke. It’s interesting to me that the former has become socially acceptable, even in nice restaurants, while the latter is considered tantamount to taking a dump in public.

    1. I always find that giving a screaming baby a cigarette shuts them up for at least a couple minutes.

        1. Laughing much harder at these responses than I probably should be. Y’all are killin’ it today!

    2. I’m less annoyed by screaming babies than I am by LOUD CELLPHONE TALKERS SCREAMING THEIR WAY THROUGH THEIR MEAL AND MINE. Flog them

      Brad- “folks are generally pretty considerate” If that were true, we would have never needed to ban smoking indoors in the first place. Remember when chain-smoking 5 days a week sitting 2 feet from a coworker was acceptable? It wasn’t that long ago.

      1. I remember Daydreamer — do you think the bans change the social norms or were the bans a result of the norms changing? I think it was an awareness and social issue first.

        1. “I think it was an awareness and social issue first.” — I disagree. If the norms defining what was socially acceptable had changed first, then behavior would have changed and regulation would not have been necessary. Changing awareness among non-smokers is not enough to mold the behavior of smokers, who are controlled by a physical addiction. Only regulation can do that — “unofficial” regulation via peer pressure in private settings, and official regulation in public settings.

      2. The only thing that stopped my mother from self-righteously smoking around her family was when my sister-in-law refused to let her visit the little grandchildren inside their home. Outside the home was ok. Worked like a charm. Not only did my mother stop smoking around everyone else, she quit altogether. The combination carrot-stick approach worked like a charm.

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