The Galveston City Council adopted a comprehensive smoking ban Thursday, forbidding people from lighting up in bars, restaurants, private clubs and tobacco stores.
Council members Karen Mahoney, Elizabeth Beeton and Tarris Woods joined Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas, who championed the ban, in voting for the ordinance. Council members Danny Weber and Susan Fennewald voted against it. Councilwoman Linda Colbert was absent.
The ban will take effect Jan. 1.
The adopted ordinance is more restrictive than the regulations the council previously discussed, a compromise that guaranteed its passage.
Mahoney, Beeton and Thomas agreed to approve the ban with an exception for tobacco stores, but Woods said he could only give his support if the measure was universally applied.
To make sure the ban passed, the other three agreed.
Several prominent restaurateurs and business groups who opposed a similar smoking ban proposed in 2006 said they would support it this time as long as it put all businesses on a level playing field. They lobbied against giving an exception to private clubs, saying it would provide a loophole for unfair competition from anyone who opted to run what was really a for-profit business as a members-only establishment.
That makes their ban stricter than Houston’s, and they accomplished it in one round. This is where I’d usually say something about the prospects for a statewide ban, but after this past session I’m giving up on that. If it ever happens, it happens. Thanks to Houstonist for the tip.