Robinson: Council toughens smoking ordinance

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ROBINSON, Texas (KWTX) Councilmembers in Robinson at a recent meeting toughened the city's ban on smoking at certain venues, including some outdoors.

"The mayor worked on the ordinance and presented it to city council at the first August meeting, where it was adopted," City manager Craig Lemin said Monday.

The new ordinance bans smoking in restaurants and bars and all buildings owned by the city, plus it expands the ban outside to include all city-owned property, like parking lots and parks.

Any outdoor city event, such as a parade, outdoor movie or festival or any outdoor city event also is smoke-free under the new rules.

Smoking also is banned at bus stops, playgrounds, stadiums and recreational facilities, the ordinance, passed August 5, says.

The city's new rules mirror suggestions made recently by the McLennan County Health District, Lemin said.

Explaining that the new ordinance is aimed at reducing second-hand smoke, "I think the general public nationally is wanting a right to a cleaner air," Robinson Mayor Bert Echterling said.

"We're just catching up because we were behind," Lemin said, pointing to other area communities who also have put new teeth into their smoking ordinances.

Other communities have strengthened their rules, as well.

Section 16-121 of the Waco code of ordinances calls for similar bans, saying: "Smoking is hereby prohibited in all enclosed public places.

"Smoking is hereby prohibited in the following non-enclosed public places: parks and playgrounds as defined in this article, and at public events held on property owned or occupied by the city and used for city purposes.

"Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas that are owned or occupied by the city and used for city purposes, including, but not limited to, buildings and vehicles. In addition, the city manager may designate any non-enclosed areas owned or occupied by the city and used for city purposes, as nonsmoking.

"Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, any owner, operator, manager or other person who controls any establishment, facility or business may declare a portion of, or that entire establishment, facility or business including any non-enclosed areas, as nonsmoking," the ordinance says.

But it continues: "Except as provided in subsection 16-124 "exceptions," an employer shall provide a smoke free workplace for all employees. Employers are not required to incur any expense to make structural or other physical modifications to create smoking areas.

"Prior to the effective date of this article, each employer who has an enclosed place of employment located within the city, shall make known to employees that "smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed areas within the place of employment as those terms are defined in this article."

Waco's ordinance also establishes distance markers and allows for a list of exceptions.

The rules are similar in Lacy Lakeview, Bellmead, Hewitt and Woodway, city officials in each location said.

Temple's ordinance is a bit more specific, saying: "A person commits an offense in violation of this Article if he/she smokes or possesses a burning tobacco, weed or other plant product in any of the following indoor or enclosed areas: "(All) public or private preschools, primary or secondary schools, public or private colleges or universities, child-care facilities;

"Any elevators, museums, libraries, galleries, public transportation facilities open to the public and service lines of establishments doing business with the general public;

"City buildings, City parks (with the exception of the golf course portion of Sammons Golf Course), or any portion thereof owned or leased by the City and used for the City purposes;

"Any building which is used for or designated for the purpose of exhibiting any motion picture, stage drama, lecture, musical recital, athletic event or any other event whenever open to the public, including all restrooms and any area commonly referred to as a lobby; however, smoking, which is a part of a stage performance, is permitted;

"Any retail or service establishment serving the general public, including but not limited to, any food products establishment, department store, restaurant, bowling alley, entertainment center, Laundromat, grocery store, private club, drug store, shopping mall, hair styling salons, including service lines, but excepting outdoor patio areas where food is served;

"All restrooms open for public use;

"Within all areas available to and customarily used by the general public in all businesses and nonprofit entities patronized by the public, including, but not limited to, commercial, financial and professional offices, including banks, hotels and motels;

"Within twenty (20) linear feet of a public entrance of any establishment or facility where smoking is prohibited except to briefly transverse this area to use an extinguishing device;

"In any public area of a health care facility or hospital, including, but not limited to, clinics, physical therapy facilities, doctor's offices, nursing and convalescent homes, residential treatment centers/homes and dentist's offices except in bed space areas of health facilities if all patients within the room are smokers and such smoking is ordered on the health care facility's admission form by an attending physician, in keeping with the guidelines established by the facility;

"Or in any establishment or facility, or any portion thereof, that has been designated as nonsmoking by the owner, operator, manager or other person who controls any establishment or facility," the ordinance says.

In Killeen the smoking ordinance begins with: "A person commits an offense if the person smokes in a public place.

The rules then go on to explain smoking is banned in all city-owned public buildings and on all city property.

The ordinance also bans smoking in any workplace, in any building or on any property owned by the city or smoking within 15-feet or a door or operable window at a place where inside smoking is prohibited.

The ordinance also provides responsibility to business owners: "If the owner, operator or manager of a public place regulated by this article observes a person violating this ordinance, he or she shall immediately direct the person in violation to stop smoking.

"If the person violating this article does not comply with this request, the owner, operator or manager shall ask the person to leave the premises.

"If the person in violation refuses to leave, the owner, operator or manager shall report the violation to the building official, police department or fire department," Killeen's ordinance says.