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City votes to change smoking ban

GALVESTON - Smoking still might be allowed in tobacco shops even after Galveston's smoking ban goes into effect Jan. 1.

Council members Thursday agreed to ask the city attorney to amend the ordinance to allow smoking in stores that sell tobacco and cigars. The only tobacco store open in Galveston is Havana Alley Cigar Shop and Lounge, 415 21st St.

Under the amended ordinance, those shops couldn't sell alcohol or allow patrons to drink on premises. The ordinance also requires tobacco shops to install ventilation systems and ban anyone younger than 18 years old.

The amendment would loosen the island's smoking ban, one of the strictest in the state.

Under the ban, smoking is prohibited in restaurants, bars, outdoor seating areas and private clubs.

The amendment was seen as a compromise between those council members who wanted to rescind the smoking ban, citing individual rights and the ban's possible detrimental effect on the island's recovering small businesses, and those who supported the ban because they considered it a public health issue.

Council members might vote on the amendment Dec. 10.

Source: Galveston County Daily News