Aiken police issued the first citation for smoking in a public place this weekend, but while the smokers aren't denying lighting up, they are claiming they aren't breaking the law, according to officials. The smokers were attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting Sunday morning at the recovery center on Linden Street when Aiken Public Safety issued the citation. The AA representative ticketed, however, told police the meeting was private and, therefore, according to the City's ordinance passed last summer, the members may smoke. Private clubs that are not open to the public may allow smoking, but thus far, the City of Aiken has argued the meetings are public, and the ordinance applies. A City attorney has sent Alcoholics Anonymous a letter that states as much, said Aiken Public Safety spokesperson Lt. David Turno. "The problem is that we have received numerous complaints from attendees who have called and sent e-mails for months about smoking during meetings that are open to the public," Turno said. He said officers have met with an AA representative about the matter, but AA is arguing the private club exemption. Messages left with the local chapter were not returned Tuesday. The recovery center representative cited on Sunday was reported as saying that the meeting was a private "session" and not open to the public, according to the police report filed. The officer issued the representative a $25 ticket. "The definition is the issue at hand," Turno said. "It will have to go before a judge." The case will go to the City of Aiken's livability court early next month, he added. Each of the smokers could have been ticketed, according to the ordinance, but the representative who met with police said he was taking responsibility for the incident. Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, who supported the ordinance, cited health risks posed by secondhand smoke at the time as a reason to regulate smoking in the City limits. Contact Karen Daily at