The city of Waco has adopted a new smoking ordinance that went into effect Jan. 1, prohibiting smoking in all enclosed public places ranging from bars and restaurants to public parks. The City Council decided the new ordinance in a 5-1 vote in July 2015.
As stated in the smoking ordinance, the city of Waco claims to be seeking to “promote the general health, safety and welfare of its citizens,” with the passing of this law.
Waco’s Public Information Officer, Kelly Craine, said that the city is encouraged by the future effects that the new smoking ordinance will have on the Waco community.
“We are looking to lower the incidence of heart disease for smokers as well as people around smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke,” Craine said.
Ventilation systems inside restaurants that allow smoking inside will no longer be sufficient. Smoking will be banned inside these establishments as well.
Scruffy Murphy’s’ general manager, Kevin McBride, is not worried about the smoking ordinance affecting his business.
“This is something that is happening all over the country,” he said.
McBride has worked in three cities where similar ordinances have gone into effect.
There are a few exceptions to the ordinance that are in place to help local business owners affected by the change. An establishment that has an outdoor patio may allow smoking outdoors as long as the patio is not accessed through the front door.
“We have a large outdoor patio. At first we were worried about our customers giving us crap for asking them to smoke outside,” he said.
McBride said he has not seen any change in business since the ordinance went into effect.
“It smells better,” he said. “We’re going to be fine.”
Vapor shops and tobacco stores are another exception to the ordinance where smoking inside is still allowed. Hookah bars and cigar lounges are also an exception.
There are also designated areas inside of some public parks where smoking is allowed, such as Cameron Park.
The penalty for smoking in a location where it is prohibited ranges from $50 to $500.