Arlington council snuffs out new ban on smoking

ARLINGTON -- After months of discussion, the Arlington City Council decided Tuesday night not to ban smoking at city parks, nightclubs and bowling alleys.

Councilman Robert Rivera, who initially led the drive to broaden the city's smoking ordinance, said he changed his mind after visiting with small-business owners who feared that a smoking ban would force them to close.

The council had also discussed prohibiting smoking at billiard halls, private club areas inside the Ranger Ballpark in Arlington and strip clubs.

"This issue has significant impact," Rivera said. "It is an issue that does not need to be rushed."

Rivera had said he thought a broader ban would be tourist-friendly.

Indoor smoking is already banned at most Arlington businesses, including restaurants and the city-owned Cowboys Stadium. The city last revised its smoking ordinance in 2008.

No residents spoke on the issue at Tuesday's meeting before council members voted to remove the proposed revisions from their agenda indefinitely.

A scheduled vote on the ordinance two weeks ago was postponed after some members wavered on which businesses a broader ban might affect.

Councilman Charlie Parker has not supported expanding the ordinance, saying he thought business owners should be able to allow smoking if they choose.

"I think it's not the city's responsibility to impose an ordinance that removes the rights of business owners," Parker said. "We are too regulated as it is."

The Rangers have announced new rules regarding smoking areas at the city-owned ballpark.

Smoking will be eliminated on the balconies of the private Cuervo Club, and smoking areas on the upper concourse will be reduced and moved farther from seating and concessions. Smoking areas on the ground level of the open-air stadium will also become more visible through floor markings and signs, a team official told council members.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock