Wayne Strickland, owner of the College Street Restaurant and Pub, told the city council the smoking ban, in its current form, would be harmful to small businesses.
He asked the Waxahachie City Council to take another look at the recently passed smoking ordinance during the general body meeting on Tuesday. The ordinance bans smoking in workplaces and public places.
“The end of this week will make our 11th year in operation in Waxahachie. In 11 years, I have seen a lot of ups and downs, changes and progress. It is a constant struggle trying to make a living on the Square,” Strickland said. “Over eight years ago, we did away with smoking in our restaurant inside. We did it because we thought that it was the right thing to do. We did it long before there was a consideration of a smoking ban within the city. We also provided the option of smoking out back in our garden if they wished to do so.”
Strickland estimates about 25 percent of his business is connected to allowing smoking in the outside seating area, he said.
The council passed the smoking ban on Aug. 18, prohibiting smoking inside of most businesses, public buildings, city-owned facilities, nursing homes, beyond 25 feet of most public gathering areas, and places of employment to include common areas like break rooms and elevators. The ban also raises the age requirement to purchase electronic cigarettes to 18 years old.
‘We feel like the passage of this ordinance, the way it is, is going to impact our business. It is going to cost us business at a time when any small businessman or woman can’t afford to lose any customers,” Strickland said. “These customers have other choices. They can go right down the road to another city, who has not enacted such a strict non-smoking ordinance within their municipality. They can vote with their feet.”
Strickland fully supports the ban on smoking inside of public spaces, because it is a common sense approach, he said. Yet, taking the choice away from business owners is unfair. Strickland encouraged the council to look at the ordinance again and look at similar ordinances from neighboring cities, where a 15 feet distance from an entryway is the standard. He added he is only speaking for his business and not others.
Following Strickland’s presentation, Mayor Pro Tem Mark Singleton said he felt the city should ask business owners rather than mandate it, but it was a little too late because the “cat was already out of the bag.” Singleton voted in opposition on the smoking ban ordinance, 4-1. The council took no action since the topic was listed as a non-action item on the agenda.