By BRIAN SMITH
Weatherford City Council members are considering the first draft of a no smoking ordinance in eating establishments.
Council members received copies of the proposed ordinance at Tuesday’s regular meeting. There was no discussion Tuesday on the proposed local legislation. Discussion of the item is planned for council’s scheduled Feb. 25 meeting. Residents on both sides of the issue are encouraged to attend and speak.
According to the draft ordinance, second-hand smoke is responsible for the deaths of about 53,000 Americans annually, based on a 1999 study completed by the National Cancer Institute, and is responsible for the onset of a number of health problems, including heart attacks and lung cancer.
Under the proposed ordinance, “eating establishment” means “any enclosed area of an establishment that offers for sale food or beverages for on-premises human consumption. The term includes, but is not limited to, restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, short order cafes, fast food establishments, convenience stores with delis, bistros, luncheonettes, lunchrooms, soda fountains and catering establishments, or any other business of whatever kind that packages, serves, vends, or prepares food or beverage for on-premises consumption.”
Under the proposed ordinance, smoking would also be prohibited within 10 linear feet from the primary public entrance or any operable window of an eating establishment. Owners/operators of eating establishments commit an offense if the person fails to “take necessary steps to prevent or stop another person from smoking in an enclosed area of an eating establishment.”
Businesses would also be required to place well-marked signs of the smoking ban in their establishment.
Smoking would be allowed in a completely separated area within the eating establishment where no food is offered or consumed and specifically designed as a smoking facility for products sold on the premises (cigar bar, smoking lounge, etc.) The area must have a separate exhaust and air conditioning system from the rest of the facility.
Enclosed areas are considered “all space from the floor to the ceiling that is fully enclosed or capable of being enclosed on all sides by walls, windows or doors in any combination.”
If the establishment has areas where smoking is allowed, signs displaying the words “smoking permitted” must be placed to “provide notice to a reasonable person that smoking is permitted in that area(s) of the eating establishment.”
Smoking would be allowed in outdoor patios or seating areas of eating establishments, “if signs are posted at each entrance of the outdoor area to inform them the outdoor area allows smoking.”
The ordinance would also ban the use of e-cigarettes as well, which have become popular in recent years. The e-cigarettes “closely resemble and purposefully mimic the act of smoking by having users inhale vaporized liquid nicotine.” Food and Drug Administration studies determine that e-cigarettes contain not only nicotine but detectable levels of other carcinogens, including diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze.
Anyone violating the provisions of the ordinance will be subject to a $200 fine for a first offense, $500 for a second offense and up to $2,000 for a third or more offense.