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.Email | Print