San Marcos smoking ban starts Sunday

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – Strict no-smoking rules in public places start Sunday for restaurants, bars and places of employment in San Marcos. The ban includes e-cigarettes.

The San Marcos City Council passed a tougher no smoking ordinance on Oct. 2, 2013 that has been in effect on City properties since January.

“The City Council enacted this smoking ordinance because people have the right to breathe clean air where they work, dine, shop and play,” said Mayor Daniel Guerrero, in a statement. “We implemented the stricter ordinance provisions at City facilities and parks in January and now will extend it to public places throughout San Marcos.

“Most major cities are non-smoking and people still go out and eat and drink. So, I don’t think we’ll have a problem,” said Jason Sublett, general manager of The Porch on Hopkins in San Marcos.

Still, Jason says he is not clear on the details of the new rules. He is continuing to let patrons smoke in the porch-style portion of the bar, until he hears otherwise.

“We started on January 1, 80 percent of our building is non-smoking,” said Sublett. “So, until I hear different, I’m going to keep it the same.”

Jason doesn’t expect the ban to stop the flow of customers.

“I can’t imagine a big dip in business. You know, it’s just, people still love a good beer, a good drink.”

The ban isn’t limited to cigarettes, it also applies to e-cigarettes and vaporizers. The owner of Vapor Essentials in San Marcos, Emma Clark-Green, getting calls asking if it’s still going to be open.

“We’re not closing down, there’s just the amendment that has been made to the cigarette ban in public areas,” said Emma.

“I stopped going to certain bars that stopped allowing me to smoke,” said Michael Pergrem. “Bars started [banning smoking inside] prior to the law going into effect.”

According to the City of San Marcos, the smoking ordinance includes:

  • Prohibits smoking in the enclosed areas of public places and workplaces, outside within 10 feet of entrances and windows and on City-owned or rented property, including parks, City facilities, City Hall and sports venues.
  • Defines “public places” as enclosed areas to which the public is invited or permitted, including but not limited to banks, bars, bingo facilities, comedy clubs, indoor music venues, convention facilities, educational facilities, health care facilities, laundromats, public transportation facilities, reception areas, restaurants, retail food production areas, retail service establishments, retail stores, shopping malls, sports arenas, theaters, and waiting rooms.
  • Includes e-cigarettes and other inhaled vapor devices in the definition of “smoking.”
  • Includes as smoke-free work areas: common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, elevators, hallways, medical facilities cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, and all other enclosed areas.
  • Requires businesses and facilities to have conspicuous no-smoking signs using the international no smoking symbol, requires owners or operators to inform employees and patrons and prevent violations, and to post signs designating areas where smoking is permitted.
  • Allows businesses and workplaces to designate the entire facility as nonsmoking.
  • Exempts, private residences, designated smoking rooms in a long-term care facility, hotel or motel, designated outdoor areas of bars, restaurants, or lounges as well as retail tobacco and vape shops.
  • Levies graduated fines, upon conviction, beginning at $200 for a first offense, $500 for second offenses and up to $2,000 for third and subsequent offenses.

Properties that have obtained and posted permits to build outdoor smoking areas by June 1 will have until Jan. 1, 2015 to go smoke-free.

Click here for FAQ on the ban from the City of San Marcos.

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