Posted: Dec 5, 2012 4:34 PM
Updated: Dec 5, 2012 5:14 PM
CAMERON COUNTY - Brownsville leaders on Tuesday approved one of the strictest smoking bans in the state, leaving some business owners fuming.
The new ban is an expanded version of the one approved four years ago. It will go into effect in 60 days.
The ordinance bans smoking in all bars, restaurants, game rooms, bingo halls, city properties, bus stops and healthcare facilities. The previous version only banned smoking in restaurants.
Smokers must stay at least 20 feet away from those buildings or sites, the ordinance states.
Business owners said the ordinance will hurt revenue. City leaders allege the community pushed for the ban.
"We continue to get many calls from the public because they were becoming accustomed to the no-smoking atmosphere in restaurants," Brownsville Health Director Art Rodriguez said.
"They were getting concerned when they were in other public buildings and they were coming across the second hand smoke issue," he said.
The ordinance stipulates that bar owners can ask patrons to leave if they are smoking.