A group of nightclubs filed suit on Friday to block a newly adopted ordinance that extends the city’s smoking ban to nightclubs, sexually oriented businesses, bowling centers and pool halls.
The lawsuit, filed in state district court, seeks a temporary injunction, claiming that the ordinance in unconstitutional and “places a business-killing burden” on bars, while exempting other businesses such as bingo parlors and fraternal organizations.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Dream City Coalition, a group of businesses and individuals, and its coordinator Shonna Reiter, who owns and operates Around About Sports Bar at 2701 Galleria Dr.
The City Council approved the expanded smoking ordinance by a 7-2 vote on May 9 in front of more than 100 backers and and opponents. Standing-room only crowds also addressed the council when it approved the ordinance on the first of two required readings on April 11, and again on April 25, when the council tabled its final vote.
The final version incorporated two significant compromises suggested by Councilwoman Victoria Farrar-Myers: easing a proposed extension of the required 50-foot separation of smokers from a building’s working doors and windows, and dropping a plan to extend regulatory control over e-cigarettes.
The city says the ban extension would eliminate enough workplace smoking to earn Arlington a “100 Percent Smoke-Free City” designation by the anti-smoking advocate Smoke-Free Texas, based on criteria established by the World Health Organization. The recognition doesn’t require a full ban on smoking. For example, smoking is allowed beyond 50 feet from swimming pools and other public park amenities.
Arlington would be the 70th Texas city with the designation. Other North Texas cities in that group include Dallas, Southlake, Benbrook, Flower Mound, Little Elm, Denton, Plano, Frisco, McKinney and Mesquite.
The council originally included bingo parlors in the ban but backed off after learning they could be exempted without jeopardizing the smoke-free designation.
The ordinance takes effect May 27, but the city said it won’t be enforced for 60 days to give businesses time to post no-smoking signs and related information for patrons.
The cities that border Arlington — Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Mansfield, Kennedale, Pantego and Dalworthington Gardens — have not adopted a comprehensive smoking ordinance. That worries some Arlington business owners that their smoking customers are just a short jaunt from a place that still allows lighting up.
Arlington adopted its first smoking ordinance in 1985 and amended it in 1991 to restrict smoking in restaurants, which didn’t have the deleterious effect that some had feared. The ordinance has been amended several times since then.
Named as defendants are the city of Arlington, Mayor Jeff Williams and City Council members Kathryn Wilemon, Lana Wolff, Robert Shepard, Victoria Farrar-Myers and Michael Glaspie.
Staff writer Steve Kaskovich contributed to this story.