Smoking ban years
Each time a new restriction was proposed, there had been outcry, but in 2005, there was genuine fear that ending smoking at music venues would be the death knell of the “Live Music Capital of the World.”
Even this newspaper’s editor – a non-smoker – wrote a series of editorials (, ). Despite many concerns, the ban was approved with 52% of the vote and went into effect Sept. 1, 2005.
Shortly after it went into effect, a lawsuit was filed in state court by several venue owners who questioned the ban’s constitutionality. The courts later invalidated the ban in part because it failed to spell out in detail the steps businesses need to take to implement the law. But in March 2008, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals restored the ban.
Now, 10 years later, many who frequent Austin bars and music venues probably can’t imagine a time when smoking in public places was commonplace. Those who are age 30 or younger may have never seen a concert in a smoke-filled club because they grew up in an era when such bans were the norm.
The Chronicle revisited some of those on both sides of the argument to reflect on the ban and get their input on what will probably become yet another debate in the months and years to come – e-cigarettes.
Reflecting back, what are your feelings about the smoking ban?
Philip Huang, MD, MPH, the Medical Director and Health Authority for the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department