A public hearing was last Tuesday to receive input on whether Houston residents favor adoption of a local Clean Air Act that could target smoking and vaping in public places. About a half dozen people spoke. The Houston City Council took the testimony under a advisement. 

Restrictions on smoking in public places would either be a governmental intrusion or a step toward a healthier community. Those were the opinions Tuesday at a public hearing on the matter that drew about a dozen people.

The 35-minute hearing was held to gauge residents’ opinions on restricting smoking in public places. Missouri already has a law that spells out smoking in indoor places or work sites, but Houston has never adopted a local ordinance. Houston police say they have never taken a smoking complaint.

The public forum — held before a city council meeting — was called to assess opinions on whether the city needs to look at the issue.

Dr. Matthew Brown, who practices medicine at Mercy Clinic at Houston, urged passage of smoking restrictions due to the health benefits. Often, he said, smokers develop significant health issues and second hand-smoking affects everyone, especially those in close spaces.

PDF: State smoking law

Beth Mikels said restrictions on vaping would drive her small business to close, ending employment for two. The store sells vaping items and she noted a study says the products pose no health risk.

Others thought their constitutional rights were being taken away.

Business owner George Sholtz added that the move was a step toward socialism and Gary Parish said passage would overload police and take away freedom from citizens.

Rachel Kelly, a mother with a child with asthma, said the health benefits would be significant for children with similar medical issues.

The council has no timetable on the matter, and could opt to not consider such an issue.

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