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The Paris City Council is expected on Monday to adopt an amended smoking ordinance that will add restaurants, ballparks and bowling alleys to the prohibited list.
Smoking in public places, particularly inside, is already banned in Paris, but the existing ordinance empowers owners of bars and restaurants to allow or to prohibit smoking.
The council began looking at amending the city’s smoking regulations after citizens, students and physicians came to the council in January with concerns about the dangers of second-hand smoke, particularly to young people.
On Jan. 24, six of the seven council members (all but District 5 councilman Matt Frierson — who opposes telling people they can’t allow smoking in their establishments) — were ready to adopt an ordinance prohibiting smoking in both bars and restaurants along with other public places.
Instead, the council went along with Mayor AJ Hashmi, who proposed appointing a citizens task force comprised equally of smoking opponents and proponents to attempt a compromise, given the heated public comment in Citizens Forum both for and against stronger smoking regulations.
The mayor picked the task force: Dr. Amanda Green, medical director of the Paris-Lamar County Health Department (for the ban); Jeff Martin, owner of five local restaurants (for); Dr. Ted McLemore (for); Linda Vandiver (for); Cecilia Grubbs (for); Kent McKee, restaurant owner (against); Jaime Haley, owner of an E-cigarette store (against); John Kruntorad, Lamar County Republican chairman (against); Jerry Haning (against); and Patrick Durham, bar owner (against).
The citizens task force was at a stalemate for the first half of a two-hour meeting in February, each side holding to their position, but the mayor reminded the members that in the absence of a compromise, the council would adopt a proposal neither one wanted.
District 4 councilman Dr. Richard Grossnickle has held fast for including bars in the “no smoking” regulations. The others have indicated they will go along with the task force’s recommendation.
Smoking will be prohibited “in all enclosed public places within the City of Paris,” the new ordinance states, bars excluded, “and in all areas located within 30 feet of any entrance to the building or facility, operable windows, air intake ducts, or ventilation systems.”
A sign stating that smoking is prohibited must be posted “clearly and conspicuously” at every entrance to a public place.
Private residences are not subject to the smoking restrictions “unless used as a child care, adult day care, group home, or health care facility.”
However, smoking will be prohibited in outdoor common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums, trailer parks, retirement facilities, nursing homes and other multiple-unit residential facilities, except in designated smoking areas, which are not to exceed 25 percent of the total outdoor common area.
The ordinance says such designated smoking areas of multiple-unit residential facilities must be located at least 30 feet from outside entrances, operable windows, and ventilation systems of enclosed areas.
It will be a misdemeanor, subject to a fine of $50 plus court costs, to smoke in an area where smoking is prohibited, or for a person who owns or manages a place to fail to enforce the smoking ban.
Although the new ordinance goes into effect immediately, violators will get off with a warning for the next 30 days, through April 23.
A consideration for excluding bars from the new ordinance is the fact that children aren’t affected, since no one under 18 can legally go into or work at a bar.
The compromise also omits any mention of electronic cigarettes. Task force members didn’t feel there is adequate scientific proof of the danger of E-cigarettes.
Smoking shall be prohibited 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.”
“Smoking shall also be prohibited in and within 25 feet of bleachers, grandstands, restroom facilities and concession stands serving these facilities,” and within 30 feet of any outdoor playground.
Within 48 hours of the City Council’s enactment of the amended smoking ordinance, City Manager John Godwin or his designee is required to post a copy of the new smoking regulations on the city’s website and deliver to the media a copy for notification of the public.
The ordinance directs an owner, manager, operator or employee of a regulated area:
Question: Will smoking be prohibited in bars that are attached to restaurants?
Answer: Yes. The smoking ban applies to any bar that opens “into a food establishment, hotel, motel, or any other establishment in which smoking is prohibited.” Any bar located in a restaurant is considered part of the restaurant.
Q: How about outdoor seating areas of restaurants?
A: Smoking is prohibited in outdoor seating or serving areas of restaurants and within 30 feet of those areas.
Q: Will smoking be prohibited in a vehicle in a line at a drive-through pharmacy or bank?
A: Smoking is prohibited by both pedestrians and persons in all outdoor service lines in which service is obtained by persons in vehicles, including service that is provided by bank tellers, automatic teller machines, and fast food vendors “but only within 30 feet of the point of service.”
Q: Are vehicles covered by the smoking ordinance?
A: If it is a company vehicle, yes. The ordinance says: “On every vehicle that constitutes a place of employment, at least one sign, visible from the exterior of the vehicle, must be clearly and conspicuously posted, stating that smoking is prohibited.”
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra