Gainesville smoking ordinance goes into effect

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GAINESVILLE, TX -- A new smoking ordinance is now in effect in the city of Gainesville, limiting the places you can light up. And while many residents support it, Morgan Downing tells us how one business owner is trying to stomp it out.

No smoking signs are popping up in several locations around Gainesville. Now, it's no longer an option, it's city law.

"They were supposed to put no smoking signs up, and then take away ashtrays and other smoking apparatus around the restauratns and the places that it was designated non-smoking," city manager Barry Sullivan said.

City manager Barry Sullivan says now, smoking is prohibited in public areas like parks, ball fields, on city property and in restaurants if alcohol makes up less than 70 percent of their sales.

It is allowed 20 feet from a doorway, in the streets and private homes.

"Going to a restaurant or a public place, it is nice not to have to smell smoke," resident Mark Shasteen said.

"I think all in all, it is good to have a city ordinance because there are a lot of people allergic to smoke and people that have upper respiratory challenges," resident Rhonda Moser said.

Seafoodville restaurant owner Johnny Glass didn't want to speak on camera, but says he is filing a federal lawsuit against the city. He claims the ordinance discriminates against certain restaurants because it bases the decision to allow smoking on alcohol sales.

Some residents agree the ordinance needs some tweaking.

"I also feel too that people who desire to smoke should have the right," Shasteen said.

"Being in a park, it's open. So, there's you know, breezes and air so really in a park it really doesn't affect me," Moser said.

Sullivan says this ordinance was spurred by residents. If you're caught lighting up in restricted areas, you're looking at a $50 fine.

"The first few months, we plan on trying to work with the people, and more informative over the first few months than implmenting the penalities," Sullivan said.

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