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Humble, Texas is on the outskirts of Houston to the north east. It’s a common city to frequent for those living in Atascocita and Kingwood. A recent meeting of the Humble City Council had a smoking ban ordinance on the docket. The ordinance outlined increasing the smoking ban to include more public facilities into the current definition. The ordinance was passed with a 5-1 vote.
As outlined in the document; all restaurants, pool or billiard halls, gaming halls, bingo parlors, movie theaters, auditoriums, shopping malls, educational offices, child care facilities, some bars, and both enclosed and open-air sporting facilities are now included in with the ban. The exclusions to this list include homes, tobacco outlets, tobacco stores, and bars in operation prior to March 1, 2012.
Humble City Manager, Darrell Boeske stated, “We didn’t jump in here on the first day. We are last to get on the bandwagon.” Following discussing that larger cities have enacted smoking bans covering the same facilities and stressing that the concept is hardly new.
The one councilman, Bill Connor, who voted against the ordinance spoke out about his vote.
“I don’t like anything that takes people’s rights away. If we’ve got to sit here and control what people do, well that’s not what government is for. It’s supposed to be for the people, not against them.” Councilman Connor owns a business in Humble and noted that he has never had a problem asking patrons to not smoke. Some businesses are afraid to enforce a ban on smoking for fear of losing patrons, but will easily shift the blame onto City Council instead.
Connor explained to the City Council in a memorandum why the city did not need another ordinance. “We currently have ordinances we are not enforcing. Why add another one? Especially one that encumbers the rights of the business owner. The right to smoke or not to smoke should be left up to the business owner and not the city of Humble.”
It isn’t often that we see anyone holding a public office clearly state that they are opposed to additional regulations that inhibit the rights of people. What do you think about Councilman Connor’s stance against the bill and his reasoning?