A new petition to ban smoking in public places in now in the hands of the city of Amarillo.
If the petition is successful people won't be able to light up in the workplace, restaurants, bars, practically anywhere inpublic. It also requires people to smoke a reasonable distance from a building. Private clubs, hotels, nursing homes and churches are all types of business that will be exempt from the ban. Breathe Easy Amarillo is sponsoring the petition and they say they've received 4,933 signatures from registered voters.
"So the city secretary will take those signatures to be sure they are register voters. That their are 3062 of them. Once that's done then it will go to the city commission," said Breathe Easy Representative Mary Coyne.
Everyone seems to agree that the smoking ban is good for places like restaurants or any other public family places, but they say taking it into the bar becomes a personal rights issue.
"It's the right of the owner of the business, people don't have to come here. That's how I look at it. Let me make a decision on the property that I own," said No Dogs Allowed Co-owner Pat McKean.
That's the general feeling of many amarillo bar owners who strongly oppose a petition to ban smoking in all public places. Many owners i spoke with agree smoking should be banned in places where children are at risk. McKean also says he doesn't understand why the petition exempts churches from the ban and not bars where only adults over 21 are patrons.
"There are more kids in sunday school then at the sports bar. I'd like some answers to some of this and i would like the voting public to ask those questions."
Some bar owners are concerned that they will lose business and will have to shut their doors.
But Randall Decker owner of Calico County restaurant says he went smoke free in 1990 and hasn't had any problems since.
"I don't think it's affected business at all, the business didn't slow down. A few people complained years ago, but they quickly came back and business has been good."
If the proposed ordinance is passed owners will be subject to fines of 100 dollars for the first violation, 200 for the second and up to five hundred for the third violations in one year. The city commission is expected to address the issue during their February 12th meeting.
If the the commission does not approve the ban it will automatically be on the May Ballot. If passed the law will go into effect mid-June.
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