Council tables smoking ordinance to April 25

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City Council is considering stepping up local enforcement of state law that prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors.

Lacking a majority for the highly anticipated vote Wednesday, the council decided to table a decision on an outdoor secondhand smoke ordinance until next week. 

The council was scheduled to vote on the ordinance at the regular meeting, but a series of motions to approve different versions of an outdoor smoking ban failed to muster a majority. 

Now, the vote is scheduled for next Wednesday’s council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. 

Councilmember Rich Constantine was absent from this week’s meeting. 

The council had a lengthy discussion about the details of the proposed ordinance and several presentations by residents – some in favor of the ordinance, some against – during a public hearing. 

The proposed ordinance would outlaw smoking outdoors in dining areas, near building entryways (including windows and vents) facing the street or sidewalk, public events such as the Mushroom Mardi Gras, recreation areas and service areas such as ATM lines and bus stops. 

The policy would also prohibit smoking “within a reasonable distance” – defined as 25 feet – of the outdoor eating areas. And at council members’ request after a February meeting, the ordinance would allow smoking near entryways on the back side of buildings, where they are not facing the street or sidewalk. 

And the policy would allow renters of city-owned facilities such as the Community and Cultural Center or Galvan Park to designate a clearly marked outdoor smoking area for their public events. That was also added to the ordinance at the request of the council, who worried that the exclusion of such a provision might discourage facility rentals which bring revenue directly to the city. 

The purpose of the ordinance is to protect non-smokers from the potentially harmful effects of secondhand smoke, according to a city staff report.

At Wednesday’s meeting, councilman Larry Carr rejected the addition of a further exemption of the requirements to renters of the Outdoor Sports Center because allowing such “loopholes” could create a “slippery slope.”

Allowing such exceptions would do “exactly what this ordinance is supposed to prohibit,” Carr said. 

Council woman Marilyn Librers voted against all the motions to approve any version of the ordinance, as she said it is “over-regulation” by the government. 

The city council meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at City Hall council chambers, 17555 Peak Ave. 

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