In past decades, the sight of someone smoking was not an uncommon thing, whether they were news anchors on television or people just walking along.
But in a work session for the Weatherford City Council meeting Dec. 10, council members Heidi Wilder and Jeff Robinson said the city of Weatherford should consider banning the habit in public places, pointing out that it can be both a nuisance and unhealthy to those nearby.
Robinson said he had heard from citizens who especially disliked it when people used restaurants or parks to smoke.
“It’s a health hazard and it’s offensive to many,” Robinson said.
Council member Waymon Hamilton pointed out that the city and the entire country has come a long way in the recent decades as smoking moved away from being the social norm. In recent years, the council decided they would ban smoking on city-owned property and city vehicles.
Mayor Dennis Hooks expressed concern that such a ban beyond that on city-owned land might be overstepping their bounds as the government, reaching into personal lives of residents.
“I don’t think it’s government’s job to enact laws for private businesses,” council member Craig Swancy said.
Swancy said he chose to keep his store a non-smoking area and believes other owners should be informed of that choice instead of having it forced on them.
The council decided they would seek the opinions of residents while also informing restaurants and businesses that they have the right to ban smoking from their own establishments if they desire.
Hooks said business owners sometimes fear banning smoking would cause business to drop, but some studies the council brought up actually reveal the opposite.
The council agreed to look further into creating a non-smoking for public parks, however. Robinson said in some area,s cigarette butts litter the ground and children sometimes end up playing with them.
If that policy is put in place, then smokers would not be arrested but would be asked to leave the park. Their refusal to leave could then lead to trespassing charges.
Resident Kathleen Wildwood agreed that the parks and pool areas of town should especially be made non-smoking areas for the benefit of the children and other residents.
“I’m definitely in favor of non-smoking,” Wildwood addressed the council. “I don’t tolerate it well.”
But before creating any new ordinances or policies, the council decided they would first communicate with residents and business owners.