Smoke-free San Benito?

SAN BENITO — It looks like the city is joining the fight against smoking.

City hall will host a public hearing tonight to introduce a new ordinance that prohibits smoking in certain areas within city limits.

The hearing will take place at the municipal building at 5:30 p.m.

The proposed ordinance seeks to restrict or ban tobacco and electronic smoking devices in enclosed and non-enclosed areas.

According to a press statement, the American Heart Association reached out to the city about a month and a half ago to ask them to consider implementing an ordinance related to smoking.

If approved, San Benito will join a growing group of cities in Texas that have non-smoking ordinances.

According to smokefreetexas.org, more than 80 cities in Texas have passed smoke-free ordinances with a portion of those in south Texas.

Currently, there are more than 16 cities in the Rio Grande Valley that have approved a version of the ordinance including Harlingen, Mercedes, Weslaco, San Juan, Donna and more recently, Alamo.

The ban will prohibit smoking in most public places and within 25 feet outside of entrances of non-smoking buildings and areas.

Those in violation will be looking at a $200 fine for a first offense and up to $2,000 for repeat offenders.

Residents and business owners looking to speak in favor or against the ordinance will be heard during the Tuesday meeting.

There will be no action on the ordinance tomorrow.

The meeting will be a public hearing and the first reading for consideration. If considered, it will be up for a second reading and vote at the next meeting.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: City Public hearing

WHEN: Tuesday, Aug 1. at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Municipal Building, 401 N. Sam Houston

WHY: To propose an ordinance that would prevent smoking in

public places

What is it? An ordinance regulating and prohibiting smoking in certain areas. Where?

• Public places

• Places of employment

• City owned parks and buildings

• Within 25 feet of entrances of non-smoking buildings and areas

• Within 25 feet of all outdoor sports arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters

• Within 25 feet of outdoor public transportation stations, platforms under authority of the city

• Within 25 feet of pavilions, playgrounds, libraries owned by the city