The Lubbock City Council will meet this week and could vote to approve an ordinance that would ban smoking in all bars and restaurants across the city. The ordinance would not only apply to cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, but to e-cigarettes and vapor as well. The proposed language would also regulate drivers who smoke in certain circumstances.
An organization called the West Texas Smoke-Free Coalition has been in the planning process and attending city council meetings for months. The group is led by Lubbock Attorney Matthew Harris and claim that they are pursuing an expanded smoking ban in Lubbock in order to protect the health of employees at bars and restaurants. Lubbock already has a smoking ban in place at restaurants but Harris and his organization which has been supported by the American Cancer Society, believe the current ordinance does not go far enough.
The proposed language of the ordinance to be voted on during Thursday’s council meeting is much more far reaching than had been anticipated. The proposed smoking ban would ban all products with tobacco and nicotine including the very popular e-cigarettes and vapor which are two products that are popular among ex-tobacco users. The ordinance would impact all businesses in the city of Lubbock with employees.
Section 8.17.033 of the ordinance bans smoking in outdoor areas as well. Including within 20 feet of outdoor seating or serving areas as well as within 20 feet of entrances and working windows. These two rules could put in jeopardy some patio seating at restaurants. One outdoor area that is included in this section has raised eyebrows as it could lead to banning smoking in a citizen’s car at certain times. This would ban smoking, “In all outdoor service lines, including lines in which service is obtained by persons in vehicles, such as service that is provided by bank tellers, parking lot attendants, and toll takers. In lines in which service is obtained by persons in vehicles, smoking is prohibited by both pedestrians and persons in vehicles, but only within 20 feet of the point of service.”
This could mean that going through a drive-thru while smoking a cigar, cigarette, e-cigarette, snuff, or dip could become illegal in Lubbock. While one section of the proposed ordinance could impact drivers, the definition of business in the ordinance could mean that if a plumber is working inside the home, that home must become tobacco free. The definition of a business according to the document is, “Business means a sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, corporation, or other business entity, either for-profit or not-for-profit, including retail establishments where goods or services are sold; professional corporations and other entities where legal, medical, dental, engineering, architectural, or other professional services are delivered.”
Lubbock City Councilwoman Karen Gibson told KFYO-AM in Lubbock that the ordinance goes too far. “As I read through this, I was just floored at everything they brought into it. The proposed ordinance will put many local merchants out of business. Not only are we putting them out of business, we’re putting workers out of business. I just think it’s a bad deal all the way around.” Gibson is joined by Councilmember Jeff Griffith and Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson in opposing the ordinance and believing that this is a private property rights issue. Councilmembers Latrelle Joy and Floyd Price, both Democrats, are in favor of the ordinance. Two members of the city council have not commented officially on where they stand. Councilman Jim Gerlt and Councilman Victor Hernandez will be the deciding votes on the measure.
Councilwoman Gibson urged those who were against the ban to show up to Lubbock’s City Hall on Thursday at 5:15pm and to sign up to speak out against the ordinance.
Chad Hasty host The Chad Hasty Show on KFYO-AM in Lubbock. Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadHastyRadio.