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City of RGC Moves to Update Public Smoking Regulations

The regular meeting of the City Commission of Rio Grande City held on Wednesday, June 20, at the City Hall featured the first reading of Ordinance 2018-4 which is set to replace the City's previous Smoking Ordinance.

The new ordinance would replace the City's existing Ordnance 2011-6. "This is to further clarify public spaces, and changing some of the requirements setting limits on where smokers can smoke. For example we increased the distance of an entrance from 15 to feet 25 feet. The misdemeanor changed from $200 to $2000. What's being proposed is what's been adopted by a lot of cities across the State of Texas," stated Rio Grande City manager Alberto Perez.

"Rio Grande City was the first City in Starr County to pass a smoking ordinance in 2011," recalled SCAN director Sandra Garza. "We thought we would face some resistance but in all these years that the ordinance has been in place we've only had positive feedback. [Now] we look forward to updating the ordinance."

"What we support is for City's to adopt comprehensive smoke free ordinances and what that means is all indoor workplaces are smoke free including restaurants and bars," said Jerry Saavedra with the American Heart Association. "In 2011 [the City of Rio Grande City] took a great first step. I think there are currently some exemptions that are not included in that 2011 ordinance that the updated ordinance hopes to [address]. Another thing to consider is that back in 2011 electronic cigarettes weren't even in existence, so [this new ordinance] includes e-cigarettes into the definition of smoking. "It's not about telling people they can't smoke. It's simply asking them; if you're going to smoke step outside so that your choice to smoke isn't harming the health of everyone else who is indoors."

The first reading of Ordinance 2018-4 was approved by the commission and the second reading is set to be held at the next regular meeting of the City Commission of Rio Grande City.

PHOTO: SCAN director Sandra Garza, Starr County Super Youth Coalition members Stephanie A. Garza of Rio Grande City High School, Kelsey Leal of Grulla High School, and Rosalie Weisfeld and Jerry Saavedra with the American Heart Association, discuss new Rio Grande City Smoke-Free ordinance at City Commission Meeting.


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