In the wake of last week’s column (“Smoke Gets in Your ‘I’s”), the thought occurred to me (via the suggestion of my editor) that maybe Fort Worth is in fact coming around to the idea of banning smoking from all public establishments, thereby putting our city’s nightlife scene in the same proverbial neighborhood as Dallas, Austin, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and El Paso. That’s right. Even El Paso doesn’t allow smoking in bars. Nor does Houston, nor San Antonio, nor most of the other Texan metropolises everyone here seems to love to hate. So I called Fort Worth city hall to find out if a comprehensive smoking ordinance was in the works.
I spoke with Elmer DePaula, superintendent of code compliance for the city’s consumer health division, who told me that there were no indicators that people wanted a change in the smoking ordinance beyond the one made in 2007, which banned smoking in restaurants. Passage of the current ordinance, he said, was driven by a group of restaurant owners, concerned citizens, and representatives from the American Heart and American Lung associations who provided input to city council. “Generally speaking,” he said, “it’s a public-interest thing.”