San Marcos (KXAN) - Smoking rules in San Marcos could be on borrowed time.
Tuesday, the city council discussed a ban on cigarette smoke inside bars and restaurants.
Tougher smoking rules never made it to the ballot in 2011, but city leaders are revisiting the subject.
San Marcos hasn't updated smoking rules since 1995, when they enacted the clean air ordinance. Now city council members are discussing the possibility of banning smoking in bars and restaurants.
Non-smokers in town have complained about the indoor smoke for years. Texas State University and other facilities in the area have already enacted smoke free campuses.
The help make their decision, the City is looking at how cities like Austin and San Antonio enforce their smoking bans.
Some say an indoor ban could lead to a boost in business for smoking alternatives in town.
Lisa Ray opened up the Vape Shop in San Marcos back in March, offering a vapor nicotine alternative.
"Before you know it we had over 1,000 customers coming through our doors very quickly," said Ray.
City surveys show 56 percent of San Marcos residents agree smoking and secondhand smoke are a problem. Another 51 percent of residents agree the city should take action by further restricting smoking.
"There isn't secondhand smoke with this, there is no tar, no carcinogens, no toxins," said Ray. "I think we will see that a lot more people will come in because they will not be allowed to smoke in the workplace and other places so they will turn to this instead."
While no final decision was made at the Tuesday meeting, city leaders expect to take further action on the matter in the coming months. They say they want to hear from the public before making a final decision.
Austin's public smoking ordinance got approval in 2003 and cleared legal challenges in 2005.
Despite the uproar in the beginning, the director of Environmental Health Services told San Marcos officials there has been no negative effect on restaurants or bars in Austin, although billard halls do seem hurt by the ban.
Overall citizen feedback has been positive.
However, Austin has not conducted a comprehensive study on the economic effects of the ordinance.
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