POSTED: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 11:50pm
UPDATED: Saturday, February 25, 2012 - 5:22pm
JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville City Manager Mo Raissi says last year, they started getting letters from J'ville folks hoping something could be done about the city's policy on smoking in public.
"I had one that says I've got 2 grandkids...they've both got asthma. They can't take them to a restaurant at all because of the smoking," Raissi said.
Raissi says on Tuesday night, the city council approved an ordinance that a 5-member citizen led committee came up with.
A local doctor was on the "Clean Air Committee."
And that committee did research that stated 47 heart-attack related deaths could be prevented when you take second-hand smoke out of the equation.
"Per hospital...so if you've got 2 hospitals...you double that. So we're talking about saving a little less than 100 lives," Raissi said.
But not everyone is pleased.
Native East Texan Kevin Blackmon owns Cue-Tips -- a downtown game room.
He says it's not a smoking issue, it's a rights issue.
"We need to let the free market place determine the direction of business in Jacksonville, not 4 or 5 people sitting in a city council chamber," Blackmon said.
Blackmon says even though many pool players may not like smoke in their eyes while playing, they do like to smoke.
"If I determine to have cigarettes smoked in my establishment and the marketplace likes that, then there will be plenty of people come here. They'll populate my business..I'll thrive...and I'll go open up another location. If enough people are against smoking...then I will go broke," Blackmon said.
Even though he may not actually go broke, Blackmon says since he's not a bar or a night club, the ordinance says he'll have to ban smoking at Cue-Tips.
"Basically because you can't get drunk in here, you can't smoke a cigarette. So more than likely, we'll probably close our doors. Because I would say...venture to say that at least 80% of my clientele do indeed smoke," Blackmon said.
Blackmon tells KETK that he hopes enough citizens will speak out so a referendum will be an option.
In the meantime, City Manager Raissi says the ordinance will go into effect 30 days from last night when it was signed.