Council briefed on ban details

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Vote on proposed smoking ordinance expected Tuesday

A proposed citywide smoking ban would give nearly everyone a smoke-free workplace except for those who work in tobacco lounges, bars and similar establishments.

The Denton City Council was briefed on a proposed ordinance during a work session Tuesday afternoon. The council is expected to discuss the matter again in a work session before holding a public hearing and voting on the matter this Tuesday.

The council sent the matter to committee in September. An ad hoc group of about 20 health care professionals, business owners and other community members met four times between October and December to consider model legislation.

They voted on several exceptions to what would essentially be a ban on smoking indoors in public spaces and some outdoor public spaces.

The committee struggled the most with whether to ban smoking in bars, according to the committee chairman, Dr. Filippo Masciarelli. After taking four votes on the matter, they settled on allowing smoking only in bars that do not admit patrons younger than age 18.

The committee’s reasoning, he told the council, was that once a person reached the age of maturity, he or she could make their own decisions about exposing themselves to secondhand smoke.

“A younger person may be more susceptible — but secondhand smoke is bad for everyone,” Masciarelli said.

As proposed by the committee, smoking would be allowed on the patios of restaurants and bars under certain conditions, but several council members asked for more information and discussion on those conditions.

Masciarelli told the council that the committee had originally decided to ban smoking on restaurant patios but then allowed it in a second vote when considering patios outside bars, which surprised him.

Smoking also would not be prohibited in personal vehicles or private residences, unless they are being used for day, adult or health care. It would also not be prohibited in private clubs and fraternal organizations. A bingo parlor would be allowed to have smoking if it has a solid physical barrier to separate the non-smoking section.

The draft ordinance contains language allowing current bingo parlors three years to build such a barrier. Masciarelli told the council that compromise came after the committee heard a presentation from a local bingo parlor.

Enforcement of the ordinance would be person-centered, according to city spokeswoman Lindsey Baker. In other words, a business, once it removes ashtrays, posts no-smoking signs and informs its employees of the ban, would not be liable for a patron who smokes.

The penalty for violating the ban would be a $2,000 fine.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is pheinkel-wolfe@dentonrc.com .

 


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