San Marcos could hold a referendum this November on whether to ban indoor smoking in public places. The City Council moved a step closer to putting the question on the ballot at its last meeting on Tuesday. But not everyone is sold on the idea.
San Marcos deputy mayor Chris Jones says he’s concerned the measure could harm local business at a time when the city is still recovering from an economic downturn.
“When Austin passed their smoking ban, the economy was good. Businesses weren’t closing their doors. Businesses weren’t having a hard time making ends meet,” Jones told KUT News. “But now we’re in a little bit of a tougher economy.”
Other San Marcos council members were all for it during the Tuesday meeting, the San Marcos Local News reports.
“People are so more against smoking than they were 10 years ago,” [San Marcos Councilmember Shane] Scott said. “You’ve got one in five people smoking. Back then you had three in five people smoking. I think it’s easy to get people to be behind not smoking. I believe in people’s rights as individuals, so we need to offer an outlet to people who do smoke, and not make it unfair.”
Many details of a possible ban still have to be worked out, such as, what constitutes a public space?
“I think the notion would be places like restaurants and bars,” City of San Marcos spokesperson Melissa Millecam said in a phone interview. “It would not ban smoking outside.”
San Marcos has existing ordinances that limits smoking in work places and encourages businesses to have non-smoking areas.
If San Marcos doesn’t ban smoking, the Texas legislature may do it for them. Senate lawmakers approved a statewide ban earlier this week, sending it to the full upper chamber for a vote.