Weatherford Democrat

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December 11, 2013

Council fires up public smoking talk

By BRIAN SMITH

Weatherford officials are looking to get feedback from restaurant owners on the issue and possible regulation of smoking in public places.

Following a work session Tuesday afternoon, council members directed city staff to talk to business owners to find out their thoughts on smoking and how regulating smoking in public would affect business.

Contacted Wednesday by the Weatherford Democrat, Eric Perrin, a manager at Buffalo Wild Wings in Weatherford, said he could see the regulation of public smoking going either way but with an estimated half of his customers smoking, he said it could have a detrimental effect on business.

“We have an outdoor patio, but we don’t want to lose any business at all,” Perrin said.

Along with restaurants, council members are also considering regulating smoking in city parks, which City Manager Jerry Blaisdell said could be done simply with the posting of signs.

“Establishing city policy would be fairly easy,” Blaisdell said.

Parks and Recreation Director Danielle Felts said there are no signs banning smoking in parks because there is no current policy. She said enforcing the policy in parks could ostensibly be difficult because by the time law enforcement is contacted, the offender could be long gone.

“We can make all kinds of rules, but if we can’t enforce them then what’s the point?” asked council member Waymon Hamilton.

Council member Jeff Robinson said secondhand smoke is still responsible for many deaths each year.

“It’s also a health hazard and offensive,” Robinson said. “When children are picking up cigarette butts near the playground equipment, that’s a problem that needs to be dealt with.”

Council member Heidi Wilder said young people working in restaurants can be affected by secondhand smoke. Robinson said research shows businesses are not dramatically affected by smoking regulations.

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