A sweeping smoking ban has come to the city of San Benito, Texas, as on Tuesday the City Commission snuffed out smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes in a number of areas that include restaurants, bars, pool halls, and a majority of businesses.
The ban passed by a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Ben Gomez casting the lone vote of opposition. During the debate leading up to the second vote, the commission changed the minimum distance that smokers must be from businesses, dropping it from 25 feet to just five feet.
The ban is particularly strict when it comes to city-owned property, applying to all buildings and vehicles owned or leased by the city, as well as city parks and transportation stations.
Retail tobacco stores were one of several exemptions carved out in the ban, along with private clubs, although they must be in existence at the time of the ban’s passage. Bars and restaurants may allow smoking on outdoor patios, and hotels and motels can designate up to 25 percent of rooms as allowing smoking.
Violators will face a first violation fine of $200 for lighting up, while a second violation costs $500 and a third comes with a $2,000 fine.
The ban goes into effect in 30 days.
San Benito is located at the southern tip of the state and is home to approximately 25,000 residents.