The final hold-outs to Denton’s 2013 smoking ban will soon go lights out.
The Denton City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday night to extend the indoor public smoking ban to all bars in town. Council members Joey Hawkins and John Ryan stood as the opposing votes.
City public information officer Lindsey Baker said bars with outdoor patios have 120 days to comply with the new policy indoors. Bars without an outdoor space will have a bit longer to comply; the council agreeing to give them until Dec. 31, 2017, to prepare for the new rule.
The council also added a 30-foot set-back from business entrances for smokers.
Also banned inside businesses under the new rule are e-cigarettes and personal vapor units. This is the first time the city has addressed the new devices in their code, which now also bans sales to minors under 18.
Some businesses made specifically for smoking or vaping will be exempt from the new rule such as vape shops, tobacco bars and hookah lounges.
The council heard about two-and-a-half hours of testimony and public comments Tuesday before coming to the decision, Baker said. That’s in addition to a meeting two weeks ago that went until nearly 1 a.m. as a long line of citizens showed up to comment on the controversial topic.
Health officials, some businesses and many citizens spoke in favor of an all-out ban, proposed originally by Councilman Kevin Roden, and many said aimed at giving bar employees and patrons a safe environment to be in.
Still others in town stand firm that smoking and vaping are personal choices and should be up to business owners to decide on. Many owners and managers at bars that still allow smoking also stood against an expanded ordinance saying it would hurt their business.
The original smoking ban passed in late 2012 and enacted in early 2013 required all Denton restaurants and most other businesses to go smoke free. The city reports few compliance issues since then.