Today, a statewide smoking ban takes effect throughout Georgia. The ban prohibits smoking in most public places and businesses as well as restaurants and clubs where minors are present. Bars and restaurants catering exclusively to adult customers can be excluded from the ban.

The state law does not supersede municipal smoking ordinances, such as Valdosta's more stringent ban, already on the books. It does, however, mean places, such as outlying Lowndes County, which did not have smoking codes, must now comply with the state's prohibition.

As Lowndes County joins the rest of the state in putting a smoking ban into effect, this newspaper places a check mark beside the "county-wide smoking ban" listed in our 2005 Editorial Objectives on this page.

This newspaper has been a long-time crusader for a smoking ban in Valdosta, Lowndes County, and the State of Georgia. The Valdosta Daily Times was an early advocate for the Valdosta smoking ordinance which, once approved by Valdosta City Council, made the city one of the most progressive in Georgia. The editorial board had hoped the Lowndes County Commission would create a similar ban. With the state ban in effect, we still urge the county to develop an ordinance that is closer to Valdosta's ban.

Though this is the first accomplished task on the newspaper's list of Editorial Objectives, at mid-year many of the objectives have come a long way since we first proposed them in January.

City and county law-enforcement are cooperating to create a consolidated crime lab. The new jail is making progress. The recent one-waying of Oak Street by Valdosta State University is a preliminary step to one-waying Ashley and Patterson streets. Economic development still needs a boost. School consolidation may be like Don Quixote tilting at windmills but local officials are discussing the issue more openly now than at any point in the region's recent history.

There is much work remaining to meet many of the newspaper's objectives but, today, we take pride in inserting the check mark beside Objective No. 2. We take pride in our state having the determination to make Georgia, and conversely Lowndes County, a healthier place to live and work.

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