Atlanta gay bars to ban smoking, vaping indoors

Several gay bars will be affected by the Atlanta City Council's vote to enact a broad ban on smoking and vaping in bars, restaurants and other public places. 

City Councilmember Matt Westmoreland sponsored the legislation, which passed 13-2 in Monday’s council meeting. The ordinance prohibits smoking and vaping in restaurants, bars, workplaces, hotel and motel rooms and other public places, including inside Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. 

An amendment that would have excluded adult entertainment establishments from the ban failed, according to the AJC

Gay male strip club Swinging Richards — which allows smoking indoors — will abide by the new law when it goes into effect on Jan. 2, according to owner C.B. Jones.

“I’m okay with it because I think it’s healthier not to have smoking indoors for people that don’t smoke,” Jones told Project Q Atlanta. “I agree with the City Council on no smoking because of people working there on a regular basis being exposed to secondhand smoke.”

“It cannot be healthy, and I think [the ban] creates a better workplace,” he added.

The ordinance does allow smoking and vaping in outdoor seating and serving areas, according to a City Council press release.  

Swinging Richards will open an outdoor patio to accommodate smokers, according to Jones.  

“We will comply with whatever the city has mandated,” he said.

Tripps, Opus and BJ Roosters also continue to allow smoking indoors and will be forced to change their policies in January. Heretic will no longer be allowed to let patrons smoke inside its pub area by January. 

Heretic general manager Alan Collins and BJ Roosters owner Bobby Hamill did not return a call from Project Q to get their reaction to the ban. 

Among those exempted from the ban are tobacco and vape stores, private clubs and cigar bars, private residences, and other establishments that ban minors and generate at least 20 percent of their annual gross, or $250,000, from tobacco sales, according to the ordinance

Businesses found to be in violation of the ban will be fined $100 for the first violation and up to $200 for each additional violation, according to the ordinance.