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

The San Marcos City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt an ordinance on first reading that prohibits indoor cigarette smoking in virtually all businesses and institutions within the city. Council member Jude Prather was not present but sent a written statement indicating that he supports the ban as well.


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23 thoughts on “Video: San Marcos council gives first okay to smoking ban

  1. You all seriously need to leave it up to the owners of establishments predominately bars. This could effect their business. Al the very least have them purchase some sort of license. Unless of course it is their right as owners to allow smoking. Does smoking require a permit or is it something yall need to create? If it does not it would be up to the discretion of the owner I would assume. You all do not need anymore distractions to the police force having to ticket people. You all need to think about how it will affect peoples business Seriously!! Pool leagues, long conversations, Dart leagues, Poker players etc. If you make consider how much money you are asking owners to pay to allow this. I mean what would the county do with out all it’s P.I. Tickets at $375.00 a pop you all put into place because you all know parents of college kids will pay. Considering the majority of these kinds of tickets are around $75.00.

  2. Very good. San Marcos is way, way behind the times on this issue and it’s beyond time to catch up. New Braunfels, Austin, and San Antonio all have smoking bans, as do 44 of the 60 largest cities in the US.

    FWIW, most independent studies have shown that banning smoking has little to no detrimental effect on sales at bars. In fact, in many case studies, sales actually increased when smoking bans went into effect.

  3. I don’t understand how one can say that the bars and restaurants in San Marcos will be negatively impacted if smoking is banned especially when right down the road in Austin smoking was banned a few years ago and one of the most popular places in the world, 6th Street, is just as popular as ever even after the city banned smoking. Bar and restaurant owners in Austin had the same argument years back and I didn’t see a gang of establishments going out of business. If anything I believe they probably increased sales. I know a few bar/restaurants that gained my business. I visit the Square in San Marcos regularly and if there are 100 people in a bar, there might be 5 to 10 people smoking. I don’t like taking the rights of others away but majority should rule on this issue. Dano is right, San Marcos is way way behind on this issue. Geez, even the University banned smoking on campus. I’m pretty darn sure their enrollment wasn’t affected negatively.

  4. It has nothing to do with the affect on business. It’s only about how you justify govt intrusion on private property rights. As far as I have seen no one has justified it on the basis of health – the studies just don’t support it. This is a clear case of 3 wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.

  5. The council members probably do not know how to justify it without it being government intrusions. They are only interested in the money and pleasing certain people possibly.They do not know how to look at it any other way… That’s just a concept. But to wrap your brain around it takes more.

  6. SMsince95, ummm business owners are saying banning smoking will affect their business so in their eyes it does have to do with the affect on business.

    Govt intrusion on private property rights?? The govt already intrudes on these same private properties. Why do you think health inspectors exist? Who wants to drink out of a dirty glass or eat food that is undercooked?

    Justified it on a basis of health? Not sure if you have children but I wouldn’t smoke in a car while my children are in it. It’s common sense. I love my smoking friends and the smoking friends that I have are very conscientious of the people around them so when they are at my house they walk outside to smoke. Not because I have rules against smoking inside my house but because they know that the other 20 people in the house don’t smoke and they don’t want them to have to smell their smoke.

    Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t make it right to do.

  7. Existing health laws are, for the most part, based on undeniable science. Not so with the minimal exposure in a smokey bar or restaurant. Kids in cars is not a comparable condition. This is purely an aesthetical effort. I mostly don’t care because I don’t smoke and seldom go to bars. The only restaurant I can think of where I encounter smoke is Cafe on The Square and I avoid it. I challenged anyone to post links to studies on the effect of second hand smoke to customers or even staff at smoking businesses but got no takers. Did some googling myself and found no good studies. This is a waste of city councils time and enforcement dollars.

  8. I suppose if you are intent on ignoring the American Cancer Society, the Center for Disease Control, the National Cancer Institute, and the Mayo Clinic (just to list a few), then I guess you can argue that there are “no good studies” that show the negative effect of second hand smoking on people. Can you link to a study that *guarantees* that second hand smoke isn’t harmful? Because that’s the threshold we need to meet.

    Does exposure to second hand smoke *guarantee* that you’ll get sick? No, not any more than if you eat food that wasn’t stored or cooked correctly. But guess what? We still have rules – and most people agree that they are good rules – governing the storage, handling, and cooking of food….because if it’s not done correctly, there’s a *chance* people will get sick. The risk is severe enough to justify the rule.

    Or look at it this way…..who is harmed if the government is wrong and second hand smoke isn’t toxic? No one really – we all just get to smell better when we go out. By contrast, who is harmed if they’re right but we continue to allow people to subject those around them to second hand smoke in public places? Yeah, lots.

  9. Dano, I’m kind of surprised that you don’t favor letting businesses and the free market decide.

    I’m more intrigued by Brad’s earlier comments about certain businesses with outdoor seating reaping a benefit at the expense of those without it.

  10. Dano, those are exactly the web sites I checked. They said what we all would know intuitively – prolonged exposure to second hand smoke is bad. Uncertain is what constitutes prolonged exposure. I found no citations of bar/restaurant smoke levels. If you did please post the links. Like Ted, I’m really surprised at your position on this one.

  11. What can I say – I’m a complex person 🙂

    As you rightly presumed, I’m typically a big “private property rights” advocate. To me, the difference with the smoking issue is that I view it as 100% a public health issue.

    If I want to put pink flamingos on my front lawn, no one should be able to say boo to me about it because I’m not hurting anyone. But I don’t have the right to light up and generate carcinogenic smoke for everyone in my general vicinity to breathe. As they say, your rights stop at the tip of my nose.

    Though if I’m being 100% honest about the topic, I would have to admit to having a personal prejudice against cigarette smoke as well. I grew up in a house where both parents smoked like they were on fire. At home, in the car, at restaurants, even in the hospital – it didn’t matter where they were, they were smoking. I grew to despise being around second hand smoke. I don’t think anyone should have to be around it – but especially kids who don’t really have a say on where they go and what they do. At least adults can choose to patronize or avoid smoky places.

  12. Without evidence that smoke levels in a bar or restaurant are harmful this is a property rights issue. And since almost no restaurants allow smoking it’s a waste of city resources as well.

  13. I have lived in San Marcos for about a decade now. I have seen it change quite a bit. I am disappointed with the process I saw in this video.

    It is unreasonable to use two justificatory systems in unison to justify a single act. Either you have a regulatory system that can enact changes on businesses against their will with proper restitution. Or you can use a libertarian free-market type justification. You cannot force change without restitution and assume a free market will make up for the changes forced upon them. Once the changes are forced on them they are no longer in a free market system, and they should not be expected to conform out of pocket.

    If it is a free market system, which it isn’t due to TABC and many other regulatory institutions, then city council has no business interfering.

    If it is a regulatory system the city has an obligation to assist with these financial burdens.

    It should not go through, but it is. If it is, the city is obligated to assist with a tax rebate for the exact amount of the patio area created by these establishments that depend on a minority, smokers. You cannot have a system that in which you can bounce back and forth between two different justificatory matrices when it suits their desires.

    Also, elected officials should not be basing their decisions on personal preference. The fact that you find cigarettes nasty is not a sound value set to base your decisions off of. Find an appeal to health concerns, fire hazards, or something of value.

  14. “Without evidence that smoke levels in a bar or restaurant are harmful this is a property rights issue.” – SMsince95

    My counter argument is simple:

    Without evidence that smoke levels in a bar or restaurant are safe, this is a public health issue.

    I guess it depends on what you think the acceptable risk level for the public is….not to mention the employees who work at these establishments and are subjected to multiple times as much second hand smoke as patrons typically are.

  15. You’re using the power of the governement as your own personal jack-booted gestapo. I can just imagine them storming into The Tap Room snatching cigarettes and crushing them under their heal like the puny civil liberties they represent.

  16. Strange how the story about Carter Morris holding a secret meeting with all members of the Planning & Zoning Commission including the Chairman, Bill Taylor who’s running for City Council, and violating the Texas Open Meeting Act never made it into the Mercury. Even the Daily Record put it on the front page this week.

  17. Banning the use of a habit-forming drug is a long established role for government. Even most libertarians agree with some regulation of public places. The argument that government cannot interfere with ANY commerce has not been used since opponents of the Civil Rights Act said that the government should not tell private property owners who they could rent to. That argument has not improved with age.

  18. What Brian said! and P&Z holding a private meeting? Who would have thought.. Yay for Susan being gone and being in the pants of the San Marcos daily record. Now they can print the stories that matter and possibly not on a holiday when everyone is out of town. Way to go Mercury for never being bullied.

  19. I own a bar in San Marcos. If you don’t think it will negatively impact us it’s because you have no idea what you are talking about. TMT tried going no smoking. They closed down. Over 80% of my clientele are smokers and so am I. We pay literally thousands of dollars a month in rent and should be able to smoke inside if we want. Stop taking away our freedoms!

    The sad thing is, most of these people who support the ban don’t go to bars. Most of the people voting for the ban support abortion. What happened to “My Body My Choice”?

    If people are smoking in a bar and you don’t want to smell the smoke, go some place else… better yet, open your own damned bar and see how it works out for you. People who think it wont affect and effect us and the local economy are just as clueless as the people who actually vote for it.

    The smoking ban has nothing to do with smoking. it’s an all out space grab. small bars will go out of business making it possible for landlords to sell out to apartment contractors and snooty bars that charge $4 for a can of beer. It’s a race war plain and simple. The smaller clubs are hang outs for local minorities and other blue collar San Martians. It’s a straight punch to the jaw of the working class who aren’t college kids spending daddy’s credit cards on the square.

    Wake up people. It’s a direct violation of our constitutional and God given right to the pursuit of happiness. I can’t believe this is happening in Texas. It’s a damned dirty shame. So many Americans have come here to escape the wretched political systems that oppress them in their home state, only to try to build the same monster they escaped from.

    With half a million people leaving AMERICA FOR Texas and over 300,000 from UK alone EVERY YEAR, you’d think they would appreciate the freedom they came here for and try to preserve it. Instead they hide behind politics and try to legislate our lives and freedoms. SHAME ON THEM.

    HERE’S A CLUE:

    Just like obamacare charging a fine to people who can’t afford insurance isn’t gonna give them insurance or make them be able to afford it…

    A SMOKING BAN WON’T make people stop smoking or stop being blue collar workers… it will only create unemployment and economic hardship for the business owners who own businesses that cater to smokers.

    it’s our right to smoke. No one is stopping you from drinking diet soda, but complications from aspartame and other fake sweeteners kill more people every year than smoking.

  20. ALSO, Great question Watson. More examples of good old boy govt alive and well in SM.

    My bar is the only bar in SM with not incidents or cops called in over 16 months. Yet we are harassed and attacked by the city cronies like Ken Bell and the TABC. Yet they can never find anything wrong here.

    It’s all politics and crooked, underhanded crap from the landlord, who used to be a commissioners court judge and the slum lord property manager to the city council members who’s rich buddies will swoop in and pick up the little bars the ban will put out of business… they will pick em up for pennies on the dollar. And all we have is a bunch of soccer moms who never go to bars who support this ban. It’s a damned shame and a sad sorry reminder of how this whole country is circling the toilet bowl on it’s way to full flush.

    Hit the restart button people. If you don’t stand up for your rights, no one else will.

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