(Denton Record-Chronicle – by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe) A deeply divided City Council slogged through several amendments and procedural moves before voting 5-2 to expand Denton’s smoking ban to e-cigarettes and similar devices.
The ban also extends to all bars, with some getting until the end of 2017 to comply.
Council members Joey Hawkins and John Ryan opposed expanding the ban. Council member Greg Johnson said he was voting for the expanded ban only after negotiating for amendments that softened the blow to existing bar owners. He said he believed some bar owners made investments in their property thinking they had an exemption, since they brokered a compromise two years ago in the original ban on smoking in many public places.
Any bars that have patios will have about 120 days to put an end to indoor smoking. Bars that don’t have patios will have until the end of 2017 to comply, in order to give them a chance to rework their business plans. Those smoking bars will also have new signage requirements until they comply.
The council also reinstated a restriction prohibiting smoking within 30 feet of an entrance. The requirement addresses concerns that smokers might simply step outside a bar in dense area, such as downtown, and create a public nuisance.
No one will be allowed to use e-cigarettes or similar devices any place that smoking is banned. Nor will vapor shops and other retailers be allowed to sell e-cigarettes and similar devices to minors.