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Hurst looks at citywide smoking ban

HURST -- City leaders are considering whether to join other neighboring cities with smoking bans for restaurants, bars, and other public places.

City officials are gathering information and looking into what rules Hurst should set in establishing its own citywide smoking ban, spokeswoman Ashleigh Whiteman said.

The council has discussed creating the smoking ban but will not likely take any action until the first of the year, Whiteman said.

Councilman Larry Kitchens said the council plans to consider "both the positives and the negatives of a smoking ordinance on the citizens and restaurants."

Business owners who could be affected by a ban have received city questionnaires about the proposal. Some bar and restaurant owners are already balking at the idea of the proposal, calling it unfair.

Some smokers interviewed in Hurst bars and restaurants said a ban is just another example of government infringement.

"I want city, state and federal governments to get out of my life," Mitch Bridges of Fort Worth said as he smoked with friends at Bronco's Sports Bar and Grill in Hurst. "They're just going to have bars and restaurants leave the city and go somewhere else."

Les Smith of Haltom City said he thinks people should be able to smoke in bars.

"I'm a nonsmoker but ... it's a bar," he said.

When cities decide to selectively create smoking bans, it's unfair to businesses, said Ron Faurot, Bronco's owner. If a neighboring city doesn't have a ban, then it drives smoking customers there, he said.

"I'm for a statewide ban," he said. "If they did a statewide ban, I'd wholeheartedly be behind it. It's the only fair way because then everyone is on the same playing field."

Mi Hacienda, a Mexican restaurant off Precinct Line Road, is among Hurst restaurants that have banned smoking voluntarily. The nonsmoking environment has made the restaurant cleaner and more enjoyable for a majority of customers, said Edward Lopez, the manager.

His restaurant has been smoke-free since October 2006 after undergoing a renovation and trial no-smoking period, Lopez said. Some smoking customers threatened to never return after the ban was put in place, but many have returned, Lopez said. For Mi Hacienda, having a nonsmoking rule works because of the family atmosphere, he said.

"Each restaurant in the city has its own personality," he said. ... I think the city should let restaurants decide if it's right for them and do it voluntarily."

Hurst already restricts smoking in some public places, such as North East Mall and city buildings, Mayor Richard Ward said. And there are more restaurants in the city like Mi Hacienda that have voluntarily done so, he said.

A citywide ban would make it mandatory for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues such as bingo halls, Ward said.

"It sends another message to citizens that smoking is not good for you," he said. "Restaurants will probably be affected the most."

Smoking ordinances

Examples of what some area cities are doing:

Arlington

Smoking is banned in restaurants; in hotel and motel bars; in free-standing bars that get more than 25 percent of their revenue from food sales; within 50 feet of entrances or windows that open to nonsmoking facilities; and in administrative areas of public buildings, such as offices in libraries and hospitals.

Southlake

Smoking is prohibited inside all public buildings and within 12 feet of their entrances and exits.

Fort Worth

Smoking is banned in most public places, including restaurants, and within 20 feet of the doors of businesses. There are exceptions for bars, restaurants with outdoor patios, private clubs, private meeting rooms, designated smoking rooms in hotels and motels, and bingo halls that bar people under 18.

Benbrook

This month, the City Council began considering a ban on smoking in parts of city parks. Smoking would be banned within 50 feet of playground equipment, bleachers, swimming pools, concession stands, restrooms and recreational fields. The city has banned smoking in all public buildings and within 25 feet of entrances since 2007.

Dallas

Smoking is banned in restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, city buildings, schools, movie theaters, libraries, museums, department and grocery stores, shopping malls, laundromats, bingo parlors, bowling alleys, hair salons, hotels and motels, and private clubs with eating establishments, such as country clubs. In 2004, attempts to exempt smoking in hotel and motel meeting rooms and bingo halls failed.

Source: Star-Telegram archives

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