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Police department prepares to enforce City of Paris smoking ban

Police Chief Bob Hundley

Police Chief Bob Hundley

Halfway through a 30-day grace period for the city’s recently amended smoking ordinance, the Paris Police Department has not received a complaint about any violation, Police Chief Bob Hundley said Tuesday.

The “warning only” grace period expires on April 23. As of that day, violations of the ordinance subject the violator to a minimum fine of $50 plus court costs.

“We have conducted training sessions for our officers to make sure they understand the ordinance, and we would like our citizens to have a good understanding of the ordinance as well,” Hundley said.

“We ask that all read the complete ordinance which is available on the city web site, www.paristexas.gov,” Hundley said, but he issued a press release outlining most of the anticipated violations.

“The department asks for your cooperation as the grace period ends. As with any ordinance, officers are looking for voluntary compliance with the law,” the police chief said.

“If there is a refusal to comply with the statute, citations can be issued. Refusing to sign the citation can result in the person’s arrest.”

Signing a citation is just a promise to appear in court and answer the charge and the signature is not an admission of guilt in any way, Hundley noted.

“The department will treat a complaint concerning the smoking ordinance with the same seriousness as any city ordinance violation,” he added.

“There may be times in which the offender is gone from the location by the time officers arrive, just as what happens occasionally with other offenses. In those cases, complainants will have the option of providing the officer with enough information for a complaint to be filed.”

Citizens may call Hundley as 903.737.4100 for more information.

The ordinance defines smoking as inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, weed, plant or other combustible substance in any manner or form.

However, e-cigarettes, also known as vapor cigarettes, were specifically excluded from the smoking ban.

While the smoking ban is wide-ranging, here are some exceptions:

Smoking is allowed in a tobacco retail shop “that is primarily engaged in the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, or smoking accessories; provided that establishment does not allow or employ persons under the age of 18.”

With the owner’s consent, smoking also is allowed in a bar, so long as it does not employ anyone under the age of 18 and so long as the bar does not open up into a food establishment, hotel, motel, “or any other establishment where smoking is prohibited.” To meet the definition of a bar, more than half of a business’ sales must be alcoholic beverages.

Smoking also is allowed in private clubs, but the definition cannot be construed under the ordinance to include restaurants open to the public.

The ordinance also does not prohibit smoking in a private residence unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility.

Smoking is expressly prohibited in all restaurants, including outdoor seating and serving areas. Under the ordinance, a bar operating inside a restaurant is considered a restaurant.

SMOKING PROHIBITED IN ENCLOSED PUBLIC AREAS:

A.    Aquariums, galleries, libraries, and museums.

B.    Areas available to the general public in businesses and non-profit entities patronized by the public, including but not limited to, banks, laundromats, professional offices, and retail service establishments.

C.    Bingo facilities.

D.    Bowling alleys.

E.    Child care and adult day care facilities.

F.    Convention facilities.

G.    Educational facilities, both public and private.

H.    Elevators.

I.     Gaming facilities.

J.     Health care facilities.

K.    Hotels and motels.

L.    Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in apartment buildings, condominiums, trailer parks, retirement facilities, nursing homes, and other multiple-unit residential facilities.

M.    Polling places.

N.    Public transportation vehicles, including buses and taxicabs, under the authority of the City of Paris, Texas and ticket, boarding, and waiting areas of public transportation facilities, including bus, train, and airport facilities.

O.    Restaurants.

P.    Restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways, and other common-use areas.

Q.    Retail stores.

R.    Rooms, chambers, places of meeting or public assembly, including school buildings, under the control of an agency, board, commission, committee or council of the City of Paris, Texas or a political subdivision of the State, to the extent the place is subject to the jurisdiction of the City of Paris, Texas.

S.    Service lines.

T.    Shopping malls.

U.    Sports arenas, including enclosed places in outdoor arenas.

V.    Theaters and other facilities primarily used for exhibiting motion pictures, stage dramas, lectures, musical recitals, or other similar performances.

SMOKING PROHIBITED IN ENCLOSED PLACES OF EMPLOYMENT:

Except as otherwise provided, the smoking ban also includes enclosed public places of employment, including but not limited to common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, vehicles and “and all other enclosed facilities.”

“This prohibition on smoking shall be communicated by employers to all existing employees within five days of the effective date of this ordinance and to all prospective employees upon their application for employment,” the ordinance says.

According to the ordinance, the owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of a public place or place of employment where smoking is prohibited shall:

  1. Clearly and conspicuously post “No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it) in that place.
  2. Clearly and conspicuously post at every entrance to that place a sign stating that smoking is prohibited. The following wording may be used: “NO SMOKING, CITY ORDINANCE, ARTICLE 3, CHAPTER 17. VIOLATORS FINED UP TO $2,000.”
  3. Clearly and conspicuously post on every vehicle that constitutes a place of employment under this Article at least one sign, visible from the exterior of the vehicle, stating that smoking is prohibited.
  4. Remove all ashtrays from any area where smoking is prohibited by this Article, except for ashtrays displayed for sale and not for use on the premises.

 OUTDOOR PUBLIC AREAS WHERE SMOKING IS PROHIBITED:

  1. In or upon all city parks, playgrounds, trails, ball fields, swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, sports complexes or other city owned or city controlled outdoor recreation centers, and in or within 30 feet of all other outdoor playgrounds.
  2. Within 30 feet of outside entrances, operable windows, and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited, so as to prevent tobacco smoke from entering those areas.
  3. In or within 25 feet of any entrance, doorway, operable window, air duct or ventilation system to any City building or facility.
  4. In outdoor seating or serving areas of restaurants and within 30 feet of those areas.
  5. In all outdoor arenas, stadiums, sports fields and amphitheaters. Smoking shall also be prohibited in and within 25 feet of bleachers, grandstands, restroom facilities and concession stands serving these facilities.
  6. In, and within 30 feet of all outdoor public transportation stations, platforms, and shelters under the authority of the City of Paris.
  7. Within 30 feet of the point of service in all outdoor service lines, including lines in which service is obtained by persons in vehicles, such as service that is provided by bank tellers, automatic teller machines, parking lot attendants, and toll takers.
  8. In outdoor outdoor common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums, trailer parks, retirement facilities, nursing homes, and other multiple-unit residential facilities, except in designated smoking areas, not to exceed 25 percent of the total outdoor common area, which must be located at least 30 feet from outside entrances, operable windows, and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

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