CITY COUNCIL WORKSHOP
CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
I. CALL TO ORDER
With a quorum present, Mayor Elizabeth G.
II. ROLL CALL
Elizabeth G. Flores, Mayor
Alfredo Agredano, Council Member, District I
Hector Garcia, Council Member, District II
Gene Belmares, Council Member, District VI
Juan Ramirez, Council Member, District VIII
Gustavo Guevara, Jr.,
Motion to excuse Mayor
Pro Tempore Galo, Cm.
Moved: Cm. Agredano
Second: Cm. Garcia
For: 4 Against: 0 Abstain: 0
III. PUBLIC HEARING AND WORKSHOP
1. Public hearing and introductory ordinance amending Chapter 15, Health and Sanitation, Article VI “Indoor Clean Air,” of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Laredo, Texas by amending Sections 15-78 through 15-82; “Smoking in Public Places;” thereby designating smoking and non smoking areas; providing criteria and procedural requirements for designated smoking areas; providing sign requirements; providing for violations, enforcement and penalties of the policies implementing this chapter; providing for severability; and providing for an effective date and publication.
Motion to open the public hearing.
Moved: Cm. Agredano
Second: Cm. Belmares
For: 4 Against: 0 Abstain: 0
Dr. Hector Gonzalez, Health Director, congratulated the Mayor and Council Members for taking steps to be concerned with the indoor quality measures to ensure a healthier environment. He discussed health statistics that are given in the following document:
He submitted the following documents with current data:
Do you Mind if I Give you Cancer
By: Gabriela V. Carriedo
The question should not be “do you mind if I
smoke?” It should be “do you mind if I give you cancer?” Secondhand smoke has been attributed with
causing more than 3,000 lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers each year, says the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The California EPA reported that environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)
greatly increases the risk of death from heart disease in nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause
of preventable death in this country, and therefore it is imperative, for the
sake of the public health, to implement a smoke free ordinance in
Everyone in the
People may argue that smoke in restaurants and bars do not seriously affect nonsmokers if they are only exposed to it for a few hours. This is completely erroneous. Just 5 minutes of being exposed to ETS equals to smoking 1 cigarette, which in turn stiffens the aorta (the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body) and makes the heart work harder to pump blood. Twenty minutes of exposure to ETS has significant, adverse effects on the heart, blood and blood vessels. When exposed to smoke levels similar to those measured in bars for only twenty minutes, the nonsmoker’s platelets act just as those in pack-a-day smokers and begin the clotting process that leads to cholesterol build up, coronary heart disease, chest pain, and heart attacks. A clot in the bloodstream may also lead to stroke. Thirty minutes of breathing secondhand smoke compromises the ability of the blood to manage LDL “bad” cholesterol by depressing anti-oxidant defenses – the effect persists for several hours after exposure ends. The arteries’ ability to dilate is also reduced, diminishing the flow of blood to the heart. After 120 minutes of breathing secondhand smoke, the risk of an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can itself be fatal or trigger a heart attack increases.
The majority of the toxic chemicals produced by cigarettes end up in the air nonsmokers breath rather than being inhaled by the smoker because most of the time cigarettes are left smoldering and generating air pollution. Testing nonsmokers’ blood for the presence of cotinine, a chemical produced when the body metabolized nicotine, shows that nearly 9 out of 10 nonsmokers American are exposed to ETS. Besides leaving hair and clothes with an unpleasant odor, ETS causes irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs leading to coughing, excess phlegm, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function. Some ingredients in cigarettes may also cause headaches. Cigarette smoke in restaurants does nothing to encourage a favorable dining experience.
Maternal exposure during pregnancy and postnatal exposure of babies to environmental tobacco smoke increases the newborn’s risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Everyday, children are unjustly exposed to secondhand smoke; they are not even old enough to decide whether or not they want to be in a place where there is ETS. The developing lungs of young children are especially susceptible to the middle ear disease. ETS increases the risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 150,000 to 300,000 cases of respiratory tract infection in children under 18 months of age are attributed to secondhand smoke and increases the number of allergies, of asthmatic episodes, and the severity of symptoms in children with asthma. Furthermore, ETS is a risk factor for new cases of asthma.
Those more seriously affected by ETS are waiters
and bartenders that work where smoking is permitted because they breathe
secondhand smoke throughout their entire shift, totaling at least 40 hours per
week. Waiters and bartenders are exposed
to the highest levels of secondhand smoke of any occupational or demographic
It is not enough to have smoking and nonsmoking
sections in restaurants if they share the same ventilation system. Cigarette smoke contains toxic gases and
particles that spread rapidly and remain in the air indefinitely. Other larger particles settle on floors,
ceilings, and walls only to be swept into the air again. Cigarette smoke is so complex and toxic that
is impossible to remove the health danger for non smokers with filters or
ventilation. Researchers conducted a
comparison of ETS in smoking and non smoking sections of restaurants at the
same time and found that reparable suspended particles and nicotine were only
40% and 65% lower, respectively in the no-smoking section. Restaurant air contains six times the carbon
monoxide that you’d inhale standing in the middle of
Restaurant owners should not be worried on the
effect the passage of a smoke-free ordinance in
Many restaurateurs are going to great costs to try to separate the smokers from the nonsmokers-while simply going to smoke free would cost zero dollars. Clean air can be tolerated by everyone. Only 2-3% of the population is composed of die-hard smokers who would actually avoid a smoke-free restaurant.
Most smokers do not stop eating at their favorite restaurant when it goes smoke free, they just quit smoking in it. Furthermore, nonsmokers who have avoided eating out will start to do so, generating even more money for the restaurants.
The tobacco industry has done an excellent job in convincing restaurant owners that going smoke free would cost them 25-30% of their business since, nationally, 25% of the population smokes. What restaurant owners and manager haven’t realized is that they are losing a large part of the 75% who do not smoke. It is estimated that for every smoking customer, five non-smoking customers are chased away. Smokers keep returning, therefore, restaurateurs are left with a false sense of who the majority of their clientele is. Operators see the smokers return, but they do not see the nonsmokers who stay away. Why limit your target customers to the 25% who smoke and the few do not mind being around smokers.
Other benefits of a smoke-free restaurant include:
· It appeals to the large percentage that prefers a smoke-free dining experience.
· Provides a healthier environment for the owner, the patrons, and the employees who serve them.
· Decreases sick time of employees bothered by colds, allergies, sinus problems, asthma, and other respiratory problems triggered by secondhand smoke exposure.
· Limits the owner’s liability for harm caused by secondhand smoke to employees.
· Reduces the owner’s responsibility for Workers’ Compensation claims.
· Cuts maintenance costs by eliminating burns to carpets, booths, tables and other furnishings.
· Gets rid of dirty ashtrays and ashes and butts on the floors.
· Allows the owner to negotiate with its fire insurance agent to lower his premium.
· Taste of food is not affected by smoke.
· Does away with complaints from nonsmokers bothered by others’ smoke.
· Makes seating easier.
Implementing a smoke-free ordinance will be
beneficial to both smokers and non-smokers.
Clean indoor air regulations contribute to a reduction in smoking
prevalence among workers and the general public. Studies have found that moderate or extensive
laws for clean indoor air are associated with a lower smoking prevalence and
higher quit rates. A study published in
the Journal of the American Medical Association found that once exposure to ETS
stops, the damage starts to reverse. Six
weeks after a smoke-free bar measure went into effect in
It is important to point out that each year
In conclusion, a smoke-free ordinance will improve the health of all Laredoans and will generate new business for restaurants and bars. A smoke-free ordinance may take some getting used to, but in the long run will improve the lives of the members of our community. It is the correct thing to do because it favors everyone’s health. Smokers may have the right to take a risk for themselves, however they should not be allowed to impose a risk on others. Non-smokers are not allowed to disperse radon,, asbestos, or any other annoying and toxic substance into the air, why must smokers be allowed to do it? Non-smokers, hospitality workers, and children have a right to breathe clean air and safeguard their health. Is it really fair to force non-smokers to breathe secondhand smoke to protect the rights of smokers? Maximum fairness is providing everybody with clean, safe air to breathe while enjoying their dinner and drinks.
End of document
Victor Trevino, Gynecologist and employee of City of
Cm. Hector Garcia asked the Assistant
Sec. 15-78 Definitions.
Bar means any area devoted to the serving of alcoholic beverages for consumption by patrons on the premises and in which the serving of food is only incidental to the serving of alcoholic beverages. Although a restaurant may contain a bar, the term “bar” shall not include the dining area.
Business means any sole proprietor ship, joint venture, corporation, or other business entity formed for profit-making purposes, including retail establishments where goods or services are sold as well as professional offices where legal, medical, dental, engineering, architectural, or other professional services are delivered.
Child Care Facility means any licensed nursery, day care center, pre-school, or other facility engaged in the practice of providing care for children. A private residence is not a child care facility, except during those hours and in those portions of the residence when it is being used as a business for the purpose of providing care for children.
Designated Smoking Area means a designated area where smoking is permitted either indoors or outdoors. If indoors, the area must be physically enclosed as described in Sec. 15-78(9) and Sec. 15-80, separated from non-smoking areas and ventilation with a separate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. If outdoors, the area must be no closer than fifteen (15) from the entrance to a non-smoking establishment or facility.
Dining Area means any area containing a counter, booths or tables upon which food is served.
Educational Facility means any day care center nursery school, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, senior high school, vocational school, special education center, or college or university.
Employee means any person who an employer in consideration for monetary compensation or profit.
Employer means any person, partnership, corporation, association or other entity that employs one or more persons.
Enclosed Area mans all space between a floor and ceiling that is enclosed on all sides by solid walls or windows that extend from floor to ceiling.
Health Care Facility means any office or institution providing individual care or treatment of diseases, whether physical, mental or emotional, or other medical, physiological or psychological conditions.
Food Establishment means any area which prepares meals or serves food or beverages, regardless of whether or not the establishment provides seating or facilities for on-premises consumption. The term includes, but is not limited to: restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, short order cafes, fast food establishments, luncheonettes, lunchrooms, soda fountains, food carts, food vending vehicles, and catering establishments but shall not include any portion of that establishment that constitutes a “bar”.
Place of Employment means any enclosed indoor area under the control of the employer to which employees have access during the course of employment, including but not limited to work areas, employee lounges, employee restrooms, conference rooms, and employee cafeterias, as well as the doorways and a perimeter area of up to fifteen (15) feet within the control of the employer. A private residence is not a “place of employment” unless it is used as a child care or health care facility as defined herein.
Public place means any enclosed indoor area in which the public is permitted or that may be used by the general public and includes but is not limited to banks, stores, offices and other commercial establishments, restaurants, public and private institutions of high education, and child and health care facilities. A private residence is not a “public place.”
Restaurant means any coffee shop, cafeteria, food stand, private and public school cafeteria, and any other eating establishment that gives or offers for sale food to the public, guests, or employees, except that the term “restaurant” shall not include a “bar” as defined herein.
Service Line means any indoor or outdoor line at which one or more persons are waiting for or receiving service of any kind, whether or not such service involves the exchange of money.
Smoke or Smoking means the carrying or holding of a lighted pipe, cigar or cigarette, or any other lighted smoking equipment or device, and the lighting of emitting or exhaling the smoke of a pipe, cigar or cigarette of any kind.
Sports Arena means any enclosed or unenclosed sports pavilion, gymnasium, health spa, swimming pool, roller or ice rink, bowling alley, boxing arena, tennis courts, and any other similar public place where members of the general public assemble either to engage in physical exercise, participate in athletic competition, or witness sports events, including but not limited to the following activities: baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, boxing, swimming, wrestling, volleyball, gymnastics, handball, weightlifting, martial arts related sports, rodeo or track and field games.
Tobacco Specialty Retail Shop means any retail store utilized primarily for the sale of tobacco products and accessories and in which the sale of other products is merely incidental.
A Smoking Prohibited
Except as other provided in Sec. 15-80, regarding areas specifically designated for smoking, there shall be no smoking in the following places:
1. Any city facility, enclosed or unenclosed including but not limited to buildings,
parks and sports facilities, airport, bridges, police stations, and substations, fire
stations, civic center facilities, libraries, clinics, and municipal court;
2. Public forms of transportation, including, but not limited to, buses, vans and taxicabs;
3. Retail stores or service establishments;
4. Public rest rooms;
5. Service lines;
6. Public areas of galleries, libraries and museums when open to the public;
8. Sports arenas and convention halls;
9. Polling places;
10. Child care facilities;
11. Every room, chamber, place of meeting or public assembly, including school
buildings under the control of
any board, council, commission, committee including joint committees, or
agencies of the City of
12. Waiting rooms, hallways, wards and rooms of health care facilities, including, but
no limited to : hospitals, clinics, physical therapy, mental health, and drug and alcohol treatment facilities, and doctors’ and dentists’ offices;
13. Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in apartment buildings, condominiums,
senior citizen residences, nursing homes and other multiple-unit commercial
14. Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in multiple-unit commercial facilities;
15. Any school or educational institution operated by a business or nonprofit entity for
the purpose of providing academic classroom instruction, trade, craft, computer or other technical training, or instruction in dancing, artistic, musical or other cultural activities;
17. Restaurants; Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Section, any owner,
operator, manager or other person who controls any establishment or facility may declare that entire establishment or facility, as a non-smoking establishment or facility.
B. Smoking Not Prohibited – Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Ordinance to
the contrary, the following areas shall not be subject to the smoking restrictions of this Ordinance.
1. Private Residences, except when used as a child care or health care facility.
3. Tobacco Specialty Retail Stores;
4. Private Clubs and private recreation facilities;
5. Hotel, motel and all other public and private conference and meeting rooms while
these places are being used exclusively for private functions; and
6. A maximum of fifty (50) percent of hotel and motel rooms. Provided, however, that
each hotel and motel shall designate not less than fifty (50) percent of their hotel or motel rooms as non-smoking rooms. The hotel or motel rooms designated as non-smoking rooms must have signs posted indicating that smoking is prohibited in such rooms and ashtrays removed.
Section 15-80 Designation of Smoking Areas.
A. General Criteria for Designated Smoking Areas.
The owner, manager or any person who operates or otherwise controls the use of any premises subject to this ordinance may designate one or more areas within a public place as a designated smoking area. Any such designated smoking area shall comply with the definitions of “Designated Smoking Area” (see 15-78 (4) and “Enclosed Area” (See Sec. 15-78 (9), and meet the following criteria:
1. Be situated so that the ventilation minimized the effect of smoke in adjacent nonsmoking
areas and so that air from the smoking area is not drawn into or across a nonsmoking area, and be located so that non-smokers shall not have to travel through the smoking area to get to the cashier, a restroom or a non-smoking area.
2. Be enclosed with structural separations from non-smoking areas, as defined in Section
15-78 (9) that is, such structural separations must be on all sides, and must be solid walls or windows (exclusive of doorways) that extend from floor to ceiling.
3. Be designed by appropriate signs or by use of international symbols which are clearly
visible to patrons in or entering the premises constituting a public place as defined in this article;
4. Contain ashtrays, containers or other facilities for the extinguishment of smoking
5. If outside, be an area fifteen (15) feet from the entrance to facilities and establishments.
B. Procedural Requirements Regarding Designated Smoking Areas in All Places of
1. Within six months of the date of this Ordinance, each employer having an enclosed place
of employment located
within the city of
a. Prohibition of smoking in employer common areas, such as conference and
meeting rooms, classrooms, auditoriums, rest rooms, waiting areas, hallways, employee lunchrooms and lounges, stairways, elevators, and nurses’ aid stations or similar facilities for the treatment of employees, unless identified as designated smoking areas.
b. Explanation to employees that any employee may object to his or her employer
about smoke in his or her immediate work area, in employee facilities, or in areas in the workplace where he or she must traverse in the course of work.
2. Using previously available means of ventilation or partition of office space, the
employer must use its best efforts to reasonable accommodate the preferences of non-smoking and smoking employees. However, in doing so, no employer is required to make any expenditures or structural changes to the place of employment, if it is an entirely non-smoking establishment.
3. If no accommodation reasonably satisfactory to all complaining employees can be
reached in any given work area, the preferences of complaining employees shall prevail and the employer shall prohibit smoking in that work area. Where the employer prohibits smoking in a work area, it shall clearly mark that area with appropriate “no smoking” signs and upon request, provide signs to employees for use in designating areas.
4. The employer shall announce its smoking policy within ninety (90) days of adoption of
this Section to all its employees working in work places in the City of Laredo, Texas and shall post its written policy conspicuously in work places under the employer’s jurisdiction, and make it available upon request.
5. Notwithstanding the forgoing provisions of this Section, every employer shall have the
right to designate any place of employment, or portion thereof, as a non-smoking area.
6. If an employer fails to implement and maintain a written smoking policy, smoking shall
be prohibited on the entire premises.
15-81 Required signs
A. Any person or employer who owns, manages, operates or otherwise controls the use of any premises subject to this Ordinance has the responsibility:
1. To establish and maintain “no smoking” areas;
2. To property post and maintain signs identifying ‘”smoking”, “no smoking” or
“Designated Smoking” areas; and
3. To properly post signs necessary to give effect to any policy adopted, implemented or
maintained pursuant to this Ordinance.
B. Failure to maintain appropriate signs as required herein shall result in a offense
punishable by a fine of not less than Fifty (50.00) Dollars and no more than Two hundred ($200.00) Dollars. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.
15-82. Violations, Enforcement and Penalties.
A. Any owner, manager, operator or employer of any establishment affected by this
Ordinance shall, upon either observing or being advised of a violation this Ordinance, have the obligation to inform the violator of the appropriate requirements of this law and then require immediate compliance.
B. The Fire Department or the health Department may accept, while an establishment is
undergoing otherwise mandated inspections, self-certification by the owner, manager, operator or other person having control of such establishment stating that all requirements of this Ordinance have been met.
C. Any citizen who desires to register a complaint under this Ordinance may do so by filing
a complaint with the City Manager, the Health Department of the City of Laredo, Texas or their designee.
D. Enforcement of this Ordinance shall be implemented by the City Manager and the
Health Director of the City of Laredo, Texas, or their designee.
E. It shall be unlawful for any proprietor or person who owns, manages, operates or
otherwise controls the use of any premises subject to regulation under this Ordinance to knowingly fail to comply with any of its provision. Any proprietor or other person in control of a public place or workplace who fails to comply with this Ordinance shall be subject to:
1. A fine up to Two-Hundred (200.00) Dollars for each day a violation
2. Suspension of any license issued by the City, including any license issued
by the City’s Health Department for that public place for a period of up to thirty (30) days for each day of noncompliance.
F. It shall be unlawful for any person to smoke in any area where smoking is prohibited
under this Ordinance. Nay person who knowingly or intentionally smokes in an area in which smoking is prohibited shall be subject to:
1. A fine of not less than fifty (50.00) Dollars, nor more than Two Hundred
(200.00) Dollars; and
2. In the event that a person has been previously convicted under this Section, that person shall be fined not less than Two Hundred (200.00) Dollars, nor more than Five Hundred (500.00) on a second conviction.
3. No less than Five Hundred (500.00) nor more than One Thousand (1,000.00) Dollars for each conviction thereafter.
End of document.
Sally Zuniga spoke against smoking at outdoor festivities but was in favor if designated areas for smoking areas put in place.
The Mayor suggested advising the hotels and motels of the amended ordinance.
Cm. Ramirez was displeased with the fine amount of $50.00 for violations. He noted the fine was too high.
Chris Craddick said one way to prohibit that the Ordinance might be circumvented is to use age limits in defining the rules for private clubs and recreational facilities where smoking is allowed. By law, a person has to be 18 years of age to purchase, consume or possess tobacco products. Therefore; if establishments like the bowling alley decided to become a private club it would not be able to allow anyone under 18 to enter.
Motion to close the public hearing and introduce.
Moved: Cm. Agredano
Second: Cm. Ramirez
For: 4 Against: 0 Abstain: 0
Ordinance Introduction: City Council
Cm. Ramirez left the meeting at
IV. EXECUTIVE SESSION
The City Council hereby reserves the
right to go into executive session at any time during this public meeting, if such is requested by the
Motion to adjourn.
Moved: Cm. Agredano
Second: Cm. Garia
For: 3 Against: 0 Abstain: 0
Gustavo Guevara, Jr.