San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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SUBMITTED REPORT

The San Marcos City Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. during its Sept. 3 meeting on strengthening the City’s Clean Air ordinance governing smoking in public places.

The City Council directed staff to reach out to the community to solicit opinions on toughening the 1995 ordinance following their discussion at the Aug. 20 meeting. Staff will also bring back a proposed ordinance using the stricter Austin and San Antonio ordinances as models.

“Studies agree that second-hand smoke is a health risk. We want to adapt our local ordinance to make it right for our community,” Mayor Daniel Guerrero said.

Two years ago, the City of San Marcos held public forums on the smoking issue to gather opinions on making local rules stricter. At the open houses, 51 percent of participants supported stricter rules and 48 percent opposed toughening the ordinance.  At that time the council had considered placing a non-binding referendum on the November 2011 ballot, but opted not to do so.

During the 2013 Citizen Survey this spring, residents weighed in again on whether the City Council should adopt stricter rules on smoking tobacco products in public places. Some 47 percent supported stricter regulations, 26.2 percent disagreed, 21.2 percent were neutral and 4.9 percent did not know.

The City Council first adopted a Clean Air ordinance in 1995 that establishes “clean air areas” in municipal and some commercial properties, while allowing designated smoking areas in some circumstances. Smoking areas require appropriate signage, size, ventilation and separation from clean air areas.

The city is using the Austin and the San Antonio smoking ordinances as the basis of the San Marcos proposal. Some similarities between the two are:

· Establish all indoor public places and all parks as smoke-free areas

· Exempt private residences, private clubs, outdoor areas of workplaces, retail tobacco stores, and hotel/motel designated smoking rooms (limited to 25 percent of total rooms)

· Provide enforcement by municipal Health Departments or Parks & Recreation if an offense occurs in a park

In a presentation Aug. 20, Assistant City Manager Collette Jamison noted that “Smoke-free policies are the most effective approach providing protection from exposure to second-hand smoke.” She cited the 2006 Surgeon General’s report, American Cancer Society studies and the Environmental Protection Agency. “National studies also indicate that there are no negative economic impacts to businesses when stronger smoking restrictions are put in place.”

The city has posted a web page on the smoking issue that provides copies of the Austin and San Antonio ordinances, the staff presentation, and will post the draft ordinance when it is ready.

Following the public hearing and discussion, the City Council will provide direction to staff on what measures to include in an updated San Marcos ordinance.

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7 thoughts on “City schedules hearing on indoor smoking ban

  1. If the council is concerned about the health of San Martians they should be discussing a ban on texting while driving rather than wasting their time on this smoking non-issue.

  2. I have mixed feelings on this issue. On the one hand, workers don’t always have a choice as to where they work and should not have to work in smoke filled bars and restaurants. On the other hand, I value my independence and the independence of others from regulation and control. I appreciate our small town atmosphere and believe in each person’s ability to determine what is appropriate and when. Unfortunately the more crowded and citified we become, the less character and personality we have as a community.

  3. Once the ban people find gullible lawmakers and get a foot in the door, there’s no stopping them. they’re instructed to keep returning later for more bans. Outdoor bans will come later. It’s the “inside-out” provision on page seven of the instruction book used by the tax exempt political action committees (PACS) that recieved many millions from Johnson & Johnson(Pfizer) through their “Smokeless States Program”. Here’s their book; http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/CIA_Fundamentals.pdf

  4. Please ban smoking, it’s disgusting. The square is so much more enjoyable without smelling like an ashtray after.

    If i could just have one whole beer / meal at taproom without smoke, i’d go much more often.

  5. This pretty well destroys the Myth of second hand smoke:

    Lungs from pack-a-day smokers safe for transplant, study finds.

    By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News.

    Using lung transplants from heavy smokers may sound like a cruel joke, but a new study finds that organs taken from people who puffed a pack a day for more than 20 years are likely safe.

    What’s more, the analysis of lung transplant data from the U.S. between 2005 and 2011 confirms what transplant experts say they already know: For some patients on a crowded organ waiting list, lungs from smokers are better than none.

    “I think people are grateful just to have a shot at getting lungs,” said Dr. Sharven Taghavi, a cardiovascular surgical resident at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, who led the new study………………………

    Ive done the math here and this is how it works out with second ahnd smoke and people inhaling it!

    The 16 cities study conducted by the U.S. DEPT OF ENERGY and later by Oakridge National laboratories discovered:

    Cigarette smoke, bartenders annual exposure to smoke rises, at most, to the equivalent of 6 cigarettes/year.

    146,000 CIGARETTES SMOKED IN 20 YEARS AT 1 PACK A DAY.

    A bartender would have to work in second hand smoke for 2433 years to get an equivalent dose.

    Then the average non-smoker in a ventilated restaurant for an hour would have to go back and forth each day for 119,000 years to get an equivalent 20 years of smoking a pack a day! Pretty well impossible ehh!

  6. The bottom line is: smoking in public places. Privately owned businesses ARE NOT public places. If you are concerned about the issues of smoke in an establishment, find another place to go! It is the right of the business owner to decide if something that is otherwise legal should be allowed in their business. Plain and simple.
    If you like the Tap Room, but can’t stand the smoke, go during lunch. It’s no-smoking until 230 Monday-Friday. Bobcat Nation is smoking outdoors only. Cafe on the Square is no-smoking in the front two-thirds, and to the last that I know, TMT is smoke free.
    If you want to make a change about smoking in a PRIVATELY OWNED business, approach the owners of said business, preferably with a group of supporters, and tell them you want to spend your money in a smoke-free environment. Then our council can focus on more important issues, such as increased speeding/accidents in neighborhoods, creation of quality jobs in San Marvelous, and protection of our most valuable asset in town.

  7. Once these “private establishments” decide to open their doors to the public, they enter into an inherent agreement to take the public welfare into consideration.

    Specious pseudo-scientific arguments aside, if smoking is indeed a public health issue then government has every much a right to regulate it as they do food service or storage, proper kitchen conditions, the number or locations of exits to the building, maximum occupancy counts, required fire safety equipment, the age of those who can serve or work in a kitchen, or any of a number of other aspects of “private businesses” that are already regulated.

    From permitting or licensure to safety laws to building codes to zoning, multiple aspects of “private property” and “private business” are already regulated by government – why should smoking be a sacred cow of some sort?

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