A smoking ban passed Monday by the McAllen City Commission will bring an end to smoking in nearly all public areas in the south Texas city.
According to the ordinance, the ban applies to “areas available and customarily used by the general public in all businesses and nonprofit entities,” though there are a number of exceptions. Bingo halls are one of the most notable places to get a pass, while cigar bars that receive more than 40 percent of their revenue from smoking and smoke related sales and more than 50% in alcohol sales are also exempt.
Restaurants and bars are included in the ban, though patrons in outdoor spaces that are at least ten feet from entrances, windows, and ventilation systems will be allowed to light up. Golf courses also received an exemption, though only for the course proper and not the surrounding grounds and clubhouse.
Parks had been included in a previous version of the ordinance, but were scratched prior to the final vote. However, all outdoor sports arenas, playgrounds, zoos, stadiums, and amphitheaters are part of the ban.
The ban comes with notable penalties for violators, starting at $100 for a first offense, doubling to $200 for a second offense with one year of the first and then $500 for each additional violation.
The proposal passed by a 4-2 vote.
While the ordinance states that the ordinance will be in effect after passage by the Board of Commissioners and execution by the mayor, a report from TheMonitor.com states that it will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2018.
McAllen is home to 142,212 residents according to a 2016 population estimate.