By BRIAN SMITH
By a 3-2 vote, Weatherford council members Tuesday night passed an ordinance prohibiting smoking in enclosed eating establishments.
Council members Jeff Robinson and Heidi Wilder and Mayor Dennis Hooks approved the measure while council member Waymon Hamilton and Mayor Pro Tem Craig Swancy voted against the ordinance. The ordinance will take effect 60 days after passage and publication, or sometime in mid-April.
One change in the ordinance was made under exceptions to the ordinance, which now includes cigar bars, retail tobacco stores and vapor shops, where e-cigarettes are most notably sold. Wilder suggested the change, saying it made the ordinance simpler to read and understand.
Speakers on both sides of the issue gave the council some food for thought before the vote was cast. Representatives of the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association urged the council to strengthen the law further by approving a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance to include all workplaces.
Kay Kamm, with the ACS Cancer Action Network, said protecting worker’s health is much more important than workers gathering a paycheck.
Weatherford resident Al Warren urged the council to not ban e-cigarettes, saying they have changed his life. The longtime smoker said he has not picked up a cigarette since September and has seen positive changes in his quality of life, endurance and how things taste and smell to him.
Councilman Hamilton said most businesses are non-smoking by choice and said he preferred it remain that way.
“We don’t need to be in the business to be policing this,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton asked Police Chief Mike Manning if the city should pass a more stringent ordinance. Manning said police will enforce any ordinance passed, but did say to write a ticket, they have to see the individual actually smoking.
“We would like to see voluntary compliance before it even gets to that point,” Manning said. “It’s kind of like a speeding ticket. We actually have to see the infraction before we can write the ticket.”
Robinson, who originally brought the idea of a smoking ban in food establishments to the council, said the majority of residents don’t want smoking in restaurants. A Weatherford Democrat online but unscientific poll found more than 75 percent of people responding support the ordinance.