People Ban: TX Seabrook

Texas Seabrook Update

Seabrook approves smoking ban on second try

October 19, 2007
DANA BURKE

The Seabrook City Council on Tuesday approved the first reading of an ordinance that prohibits smoking in all restaurants, including outdoor seating areas.

The ordinance, which came up for approval in June but was denied, also bans smoking in employee areas and within 25 feet of a building entrance. Council approved the new rule on a vote of 5-2, with Councilmen Tom Diegelman and Paul Dunphey opposed.

Dunphey said while he is not for smoking, he does not want the city to control how businesses operate, adding that many business become non-smoking on their own to attract more customers.

“The market is doing what we’re trying to do,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something that the government needs to regulate.”

Councilman Pete Braccio said he has no problem with a smoking ban.

“It is proven that secondhand smoke is dangerous, especially if you have children around,” he said.

Braccio asked Council to allow smoking in restaurants’ outdoor seating areas, but that amendment was voted down.

Dunphey took issue with that as well.

“This is going to be more restrictive than any other city in our area,” he said.

Businesses exempt from the ordinance include pool halls, bingo halls, bars that derive 51 percent or more of their income from alcohol sales, hotel rooms designated for smokers, tobacco shops and private residences that are not used for child or adult day care or health care.

Council also voted to exempt swimming pool areas where food is served, such as the pool at the Lakewood Yacht Club.

Since Council must hear three readings of the ordinance, it may be amended further before final approval.

Diegelman said he wants additional information on potential legal issues, how a smoking ban will affect business and what city resources will be used to enforce it.

Councilman Kim Morrell, who voted against the ordinance in June but placed the modified version on last Tuesday’s agenda, encouraged other council members to change the text if they were uncomfortable with it.

“We have two more readings to tweak it,” he said. “It’s not an all-or-nothing ordinance for me.”

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