City works to spread word about smoking ban

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Al Key/DRC
Mike Zampino’s Tex-Mex restaurant, El Guapo’s, will likely be affected by Denton’s new smoking ban, which goes into effect in April.

Details hazy to some at local businesses; start date is April 17

New Year’s customers at El Guapo’s told owner Mike Zampino that they thought the city’s smoking ban began Jan. 1.

His restaurant is one that will likely be affected by the new ban. The bar at El Guapo’s, although a separate room, is located inside the building along with the restaurant’s kitchen and dining rooms. Zampino realized that, with the new year, he needed to find out more about the city’s new rules and what changes he needed to make at his business. He just couldn’t tell his customers when.

It’s April 17.

Denton’s smoking ban officially goes into effect 120 days after it was passed, according to city spokeswoman Lindsey Baker.

The city staff is talking about how to get the word out to area businesses, some of which may not realize they are affected.

“We’ve gotten surprisingly few calls about this,” Baker said.

Zampino said he wants to understand the exemptions better, since it’s possible his restaurant could lose customers to bars — which Denton exempted from the ban — that serve food. He saw that as a restaurateur in Lewisville, when customers from Carrollton drove up the highway to escape that city’s smoking ban.

“Honestly, I expected a total ban,” Zampino said.

A statewide ban would be better for businesses, he said, adding that partial bans and exemptions make it hard for a business owner to plan.

He has talked with the landlord about adding a patio, in part to accommodate smokers and comply with the law. But that’s a big investment, Zampino said.

There isn’t much a business has to do to comply with the smoking ban, beyond telling employees of the ban and posting a sign, Baker said.

“The main thing is to try not to let people smoke,” Baker said.

The fine for violations can be up to $2,000, but a business owner won’t be liable if a customer lights up in violation of the ban.

City staff members are considering printing up extra signs so that businesses can come get a few to use in their buildings, she said, since the requirement to post a sign, while a small cost, is still an unfunded mandate.

The city won’t require businesses to do any special cleaning, other than to take up all the ashtrays.

That much he knew, Zampino said.

His week’s to-do list had included ordering another case of ashtrays.

“I could just cancel that,” he said.

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


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