Brownsville city leaders ponder public smoking ban

The biggest city in the valley may soon be facing new restrictions on where they can light up a cigarette.

Brownsville city commissioners are looking to close the loopholes in the city's current smoking law by passing a new ordinance that would ban the habit anywhere in public.

The ordinance would add places like bars and sports arenas to the list of places you cannot smoke.

Brownsville Director of Public Health Art Rodriguez says the proposal comes after the city received many complaints.

Our ordinance is reflecting what our citizens were requesting for us to do and that is to increase the number of places that prevent secondhand smoke, Rodriguez said.

Smokers and non-smokers alike say they support the change.

When asked if the ban would present any difficulties for her, smoker Mallory Cotton said No, not really."

I think they should smoke at their houses or parties but not in a public place," Norma Rodriguez said.

As for business, Art Rodriguez and others say they believe it will help more than hinder.

"If anything it opens the doors to a larger patronage, Art Rodriguez said.

Austin has that and it's great because you come out of the bars and you don't stink and that TMs a great, great feeling," Guillermo Tabasco Jr. said.

Cities like Laredo, Austin and San Antonio have similar laws and Rodriguez is calling on other valley cities to consider a ban as well.

"We want to encourage other cities to follow and adopt these kind of ordinances that are wellness in nature and also decrease 2nd hand smoke, Rodriguez said.

The proposed ordinance will have it's first reading Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the city commissioner TMs meeting at City Hall.