Council Committee Moves Toward Smoking Smackdown. Could Be Worse.

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If it was up to Angela Hunt, you wouldn’t be able to light up in front of the kiddos in your own house.

The first sip: The big city council news yesterday was the unanimous vote to keep Ross Avenue’s name intact and another renaming Industrial Boulevard “Riverfront Boulevard,” which killed the apparent compromise orchestrated by Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia. But since I already knew what would happen with Ross, I was far more interested in the City Smoking Ordinance Special Ad-Hoc Committee meeting that was scheduled after the agenda meeting.

In Episode 6, you were warned that a stricter smoking ordinance was imminent. Last night, I caught up with committee member Angela Hunt on her way home from a long day at City Hall, and she says the committee is developing a skeleton ordinance that will eventually be voted on by the full council on December 3. While the committee has yet to agree on a final version of a new ordinance, they supported bans on smoking in bars, pool halls and within 15 feet of public buildings.

Hunt supports a ban on smoking in tobacco shops, parks and restaurant patios. She also wants a ban on smoking while driving with a child, but she says the committee didn’t agree. I asked her why such a measure makes sense considering a parent can legally smoke in front of the same child at home.

Update: Hunt does not support a ban in tobacco shops.

“The reason that I don’t even care about debating it is because I think it’s moot," Hunt tells Unfair Park. “Honestly, I just don’t think it’s a viable option at all, but, at the same time, when you look at asthma rates among children who have parents who are smokers, you look at lung disease among children whose parents who are smokers, and you take the smoking out of it and just imagine the parents spraying toxins in a child’s face, I think the argument could be made that, yes, that is damaging to the child’s health. And do we need to more closely examine whether that needs to be regulated as a form of child abuse? I think you can have a legitimate discussion about that. I don’t think it’s germane to this debate because I think it’s a moot point. I don’t think anyone is interested in doing that.”

Hunt says she’s not willing to expend any energy on a potential ban on smoking in the presence of a child at home because it’s “obvious the majority of the council wouldn’t support it,” and she feels much more strongly about banning smoking in parks, which affects other people’s children.

The second sip: Wanna know where $2 trillion in emergency loans went? The Federal Reserve and others are keeping quiet.

The third sip: Larry James offers his post-election thoughts.

The final gulp: Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka and Eileen Smith discuss Tom Craddick’s strategy to remain speaker of the Texas House, which appears to be slowly releasing names of support to give the appearance that he is gaining momentum. --Sam Merten

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