City of Austin Bans Smoking In Public Places

Using Tobacco, E-Cigarettes Can Mean A $25 Fine

In January smoking in public places will be against the law inside Austin city limits.
At their Dec. 10 meeting, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to ban smoking of tobacco and e-cigarettes in public places. That includes places of employment; all buildings and grounds of Scott County School District 1 including athletic facilities; child care, adult day care and heathcare facilities; any retail or service business; and within 15 feet of all outdoor playgrounds were among the places where smoking is specifically prohibited.
A legal notice detailing the new ordinance is found on Page 6 of this print issue of Times and online in the Public Notices section of The smoking ban will go into effect 30 days after publication.
“There is evidence of the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke,” reads the ordinance. “Smoking is a health hazard to the smoker and non-smoker alike and it is a potential fire hazard which can result in economic loss.”
Mayor Dillo Bush said he expects some pushback as a result of the ordinance, “but the purpose of the ordinance is to protect the public health by prohibiting smoking in public places and to guarantee the right of non-smokers to breathe smoke-free air.”
The ordinance’s definition of smoking includes inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any cigar, cigarette, or pipe and any device intended for inhalation including hookahs and smoking marijuana. Use of electronic smoking devices which create an aerosol or vapor are also prohibited.
Smoking is not entirely banned in the community. The ordinance does not regulate smoking in private residences or on private residential property.
Public streets and sidewalks in the City of Austin are not included in the definition of public places.
The ordinance allows smoking at least 15 feet outside any area where smoking is prohibited. The distance is “to ensure that…smoke does not enter through entrances, windows, ventilation systems, or by any other means”.
Anyone who violates the new ordinance and any business owner, manager or employee who allows someone to violate the ordinance by permitting smoking in a place frequented by the public can be fined $25 per occurrence.
The Scott County Health Department is charged with enforcing the new ordinance and any citizen who sees a violation of smoking in a public place can initiate enforcement by registering a complaint with that department.