Houston expands smoking ban to most city bars

HOUSTON – The Houston City Council voted Wednesday to extend a smoking ban to include most bars.

Non-profit organizations holding meetings at their own facilities will also be banned from allowing people to light up.

The new law, which goes into effect in September after all but two of the 15 council members voted in its favor, continues to allow puffing in outdoor patios and in bars that promote cigar smoking and derive significant revenue from tobacco sales.

Currently the city’s ban applies to restaurants, though not bars within restaurants if smoke doesn’t drift into the dining area.

The council has been debating the issue for two weeks, while proponents like anti-smoking advocates and opponents like bar owners gave their input.

Council members Addie Wiseman and Michael Berry voted against the expansion because they said the decision to allow smoking should be left to business owners.

The fine for smoking in a prohibited area could be up to $2,000.

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