By Karen Daniels
A step forward in the name of cleaner air has been made concerning Stafford’s public smoking ordinance. Wednesday, June 27, at 7:00pm the Mayor and Councilmember’s have reserved Stafford Civic Center so that they may accommodate everyone that wishes to be heard. Business owners, residents, students, and members of the community are invited to voice their thoughts; however Mayor Scarcella has advised that no decision will be made that night. He added, “If there is to be a smoking ordinance in Stafford it will be done correctly, thoroughly and thoughtfully.”
After this public hearing the Council will then submit the suggestions to Art Pertile, Stafford’s City Attorney, to allow him to identify the legal parameters this ordinance will carry. And if some type of ordinance is passed, what penalties and violations will be enforced. The Mayor advised that this process will take several council meetings to come to an agreement, to which the public is invited.
In the past, studies have been conducted to analyze the economic impact of such bans on restaurants, bars, and taverns. According to Mary Ann Dolezal with Tobacco Free Fort Bend, the only ones who will lose money are the tobacco industries. “To date, there has been no negative economic impact found when smoking is banned. Less than 10% of Fort Bend County adults smoke, possibly the lowest in the nation.”
So when you do the math and consider that roughly 90% are non-smokers and they should be able to have a great influence on this topic, the fact remains to be seen how the citizens of Stafford feel about health risks versus government intrusion.