Irving smoking ban passes; 3 Board of Health members resign

A vote on a smoking ban ordinance in the City of Irving on Thursday night led to the resignation of three Board of Health members.

The new smoking ban goes much further than the ordinance that's been on the books for the past nine years, but many city leaders Thursday night didn't think it went far enough.

The ordinance would ban smoking in all new businesses, including sports bars, where people can currently smoke.

Smokers could, however, still smoke in tobacco shops.

The controversy seems to lie in an exemption given to eight restaurants and bars that already allow smoking or have cigar rooms like Cool River, which spent several million dollars on a separate ventilation system for its smoking section.

Lots of people at Thursday's meeting supported a 100 percent smoking ban on all restaurants and bars.

Dr. Michael Chiu, Chairman of the city's Board of Health, wanted the council to pass the 100 percent smoking ban for restaurants and bars that he and the board suggested two years ago.

To make that point, Chiu, along with two other Board of Health members, have pledged to resign immediately if the council passes anything less than 100 percent.

"If they're ignoring us, then what am I doing here?" said Chiu. "I mean, what is the point of serving on an advisory board if your advice is not going to be followed?"

That exemption has drawn much criticism from Chiu and others who say the city is choosing profits over health.

The mayor also pointed out that the ones at Thursday's meeting to support the ordinance were from the restaurant business – specifically, Cool River.

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