By Gavin Belle

The proposed tobacco ordinance took center stage at Tuesday’s (June 3) City Council meeting as members of the audience voiced their support and concerns over the effects of the proposed ordinance.

Local bar owners explained that the ordinance would adversely affect their businesses, as patrons who do smoke would be marginalized.

One bar owner explained that he already closed one of his businesses after the passing of a similar ordinance in near by Lawton, OK. According to that bar owner most of his patrons ended up out in the parking lot.

Meanwhile, Laura McKechnie, member of the American Cancer Society, told the council that in her experience as a food writer in Austin and Houston, bars and clubs in both cities actually saw increases in sales after the city implemented their tobacco ordinances.

McKechine said,“In the five years that I was there, so many new bars and restaurants were opening and becoming successful. I also covered the ones that closed and I can tell you that not that many closed while I was covering that news.”

McKechnie added, though there are always areas for compromise she would like the ordinance to be as inclusive as possible in an effort to promote and protect healthy living as much as possible.

Under section 58-102 of the proposed tobacco ordinance, smoking would be prohibited in public places, City buildings or enclosed facilities, as well as within 20 feet of an entrance or openable window of an enclosed area.

The ordinance also makes owners of a public place responsible if they fail to take the necessary steps to prevent persons from smoking in an enclosed area in said public place, and violators may be fined up to $500 per violation.

A possible vote on the ordinance could come as early as the next council meeting on June 17th.

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