Waco City Council unanimously approves ordinance that would allow new hookah lounges, cigar bars

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 10:32 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - New hookah lounges and cigar bars can soon open in Waco after city council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a new smoking ordinance.

City of Waco Development Services Director Clint Peters said this could bring more business to Waco following requests to change the ordinance.

“There were some requests from some possible business owners that wanted to do them that wanted council to consider it and that’s why it came forward,” said Peters.

The ordinance would allow these businesses to operate in a standalone space or have a separate ventilation system if it’s in a multi-use building.

However, most health officials, like Sherry Williams, said nonsmokers are still at risk of secondhand smoke.

“My concern, as in many other health care professionals, is for families, workers and customers who may be unwillingly exposed to smoke in a multi-unit building even if a separate ventilation system is used,” said Williams.

Waco City Councilmember Jim Holmes said council does not condone using tobacco products and tightened the standards of separate ventilation systems to avoid secondhand smoke.

“We accept the dangers of smoking and are committed to, basically, smoke free public places, except for this one tiny exception,” said Holmes.

“I think if they operate in the very limited scope of what the ordinance allows, then I think that’s okay,” said Peters.

Officials said the ordinance doesn’t become official until 10 days after it is passed.

They said if business owners meet the requirements, they can apply as soon as the next couple of weeks.