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Kennesaw smoking ban proposal draws heat

6:55 PM, Oct 17, 2013   |    comments
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  • Downtown Kennesaw
  • Kennesaw Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh
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  • Cigarettes in Kennesaw bar

KENNESAW, GA - It's hard to find a more conservative community in metro Atlanta than the Cobb County City of Kennesaw.

After all, it made international headlines 30 years ago by passing a law that requires residents to own a gun, even though it's not really enforced.

That attitude helps explain why a city councilwoman's attempt to crack down on public smoking isn't doing so well.

"I am Michelle Obama's BFF, I am Michael Bloomberg's prodigy, I am, let's see, creating a draconian government state, I'm a socialist, I'm a communist," Republican City Councilwoman Chris Eaton-Welsh told 11 Alive on Thursday.

She said those are just some of the things she's been called since proposing a city-wide smoking ban, even on e-cigarettes, in most public places and almost all places of employment, including bars and restaurants.

As a member of the Cobb Chamber's Health and Wellness Committee, she's been working with others for a similar county-wide ban, but has failed so far.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't get anyone in Cobb county to touch it, so we thought maybe we would try in Kennesaw to start there and maybe move up towards the county," she said.

Welsh said she's just trying to follow the healthy example of several other metro cities, but in Kennesaw some people consider such government edicts heresy.

"I think it shows the people that, well, we want to mandate something without asking and it shows that, you know, we're not a free country," Wayne Hodgson told 11 Alive.

Others, especially in the fitness business, like the idea of a tougher smoking ban.

"Smoking should definitely be banned in all places besides your own home or even in cars; I mean, I see people still smoking with children in their vehicles," said fitness instructor Daniel Bingham.

Council member Welsh admits she's stirred up quite a hornet's nest.

"I knew it was going to be contentious, (but) I did not expect this," she said.

Her proposal met with lukewarm reaction from other Kennesaw city leaders during a Wednesday night council work session.

Welsh would still like to see it put before the people.

"After seeing how many people were excited on both sides about it, maybe what we should is have a public forum and just listen for a little bit," she added.

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