• July 25, 2014

Smoking ban proposal still smoldering

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Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 10:46 am, Thu Feb 13, 2014.

By Hailey Persinger

Killeen Daily Herald

Amendments to Killeen's smoking ban are still being reviewed in committee after several opponents spoke out against the measure during Monday's public hearing.

The smoking ban committee's chairman, Kenny Wells, said he planned to present a suggestion to the entire city council Tuesday night that could have included revocations of smoking ban exemptions that were granted last year to pool halls, clubs, bingo halls and bowling alleys. But after a lengthy public hearing where only one speaker defended the ban and the proposals, Wells told Mayor Timothy Hancock that a suggestion would have to wait.

Though no formal proposal was presented, Tuesday's smoking ban committee meeting yielded some ideas for making the economic playing field more level.

Wells said a main concern of the ban's opponents was that residents of Killeen who wanted to smoke while at an establishment would take their business to Harker Heights. That concern could be eliminated, Wells said, if Harker Heights passed an ordinance similar to Killeen's.

"Let's go negotiate with Harker Heights and Copperas Cove and work together," Wells said. "Whether that's possible will be a struggle."

That idea, said committee member Rudeford Norman, would not necessarily work since Harker Heights relies on its nightclubs, bars and other establishments where smoking is a staple.

While Killeen also has some bars in which patrons are allowed to smoke, Wells said city policy should not be beholden to the same types of establishments that Harker Heights has so many of.

"Is that the future of Killeen?" he said. "Are we going to allow nightclubs to dictate the kind of community we have?"

Though the committee did not reach a consensus, suggestions were made and will be revisited at the next, currently unscheduled, committee meeting.

"We did a pretty good job on our current, in-effect ordinance," Norman said. As for a 100 percent smoking ban, Norman said that banning smoking all over the city would have to include cars, private homes and backyards.

"We're not going to get there," he said. "I don't think we have the authority to enforce those."

Though Wells' and Normans' opinions on the issue contrasted starkly, committee member Juan Rivera said there needed to be a compromise at some point.

"We need to find a happy medium somewhere," he said. "Some type of specifications."

Contact Hailey Persinger at haileyp@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcity.

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