Round Rock City Council voted against an ordinance Thursday evening that would have removed “bars” and “designated smoking bars” from the list of public places that are exempt from existing smoking/vaping prohibitions.
In a 6-1 vote, Council voted against changing the current ordinance that is in place regulating smoking and vaping in City of Round Rock. Mayor Craig Morgan was the sole affirmative vote to remove the bars and designated smoking bars exemption.
“I do feel that we have a very, very strong responsibility up here [on the dais] because the majority of the laws that we put in place for our City is for the health, safety and welfare for our citizens,” Morgan said.
The passing of the ordinance would have removed bars that make at least 51 percent of revenues from alcohol sales from the list of exempted businesses. According to the City’s Planning and Development Services Department, eight bars within Round Rock’s City limits currently appear to allow smoking indoors. These bars, in compliance with the current ordinance, are required to have an exhaust and/or air purification system.
The City of Round Rock’s current smoking ordinance prohibits smoking and/or vaping in enclosed, indoor public places, places of employment, and city buildings and city facilities as well as outside within five feet of any entrance or open window. However, the current ordinance permits smoking and vaping exemptions for retail tobacco and retail vaping stores, nonprofit private clubs, hotel and lodging rooms, separate patient care and/or sleeping quarters of health care and convalescence facilities, open outdoor concourse of a sports arena, and bars that comply with section 14-244 in the City’s code of ordinances.
“It is our role to do what we can to protect public health, and there are limitations on what government can and should do,” Councilmember Tammy Young said. “I think we have to weigh carefully the role of government in protecting people from themselves and their own decisions.”
History of City of Round Rock’s smoking ordinance:
· On July 8, 1993, the City Council adopted an ordinance that amended Section 6.400 of Chapter 6 of the Code of Ordinances to regulate the smoking of tobacco products in public places.
· On November 26, 2002, the City Council adopted an ordinance that amended Section 6.400 of Chapter 6 of the Code of Ordinances, providing definitions and establishing certain smoking restrictions in public places.
· On September 8, 2016, the City Council further imposed more stringent prohibitions of smoking in public places by adopting an ordinance that amended Chapter 14, Article IX of the Code of Ordinances to prohibit vaping in public places, which went into effect beginning January 1, 2017.