Waco City Council unanimously approves ordinance allowing hookah and cigar bars to open.

Waco, TexasKWTX) – New hookah and cigar bars may soon open in Waco after the city council unanimously approved a new smoking ordinance on Tuesday night.

City of Waco development services director Clint Peters said it could attract more business to Waco following requests to change the ordinance.

“There were some requests from some potential business owners who wanted to do them, who wanted the board to look into it, and so he came forward,” Peters said.

The regulation will allow these businesses to operate in a separate facility or have a separate ventilation system if they are in a mixed-use building.

However, most health officials, such as Sherri Williams, say non-smokers are still at risk from secondhand smoke.

“I am concerned, along with many other healthcare professionals, families, workers and clients, who may be unwittingly exposed to smoke in an apartment building, even if a separate ventilation system is in place,” Williams said.

Waco City Council member Jim Holmes said the council does not condone the use of tobacco products and has tightened standards for individual ventilation systems to avoid secondhand smoke.

“We recognize the dangers of smoking and aim to essentially ban smoking in public places, with one tiny exception,” Holmes said.

“I think if they operate within the very limited scope of what the ordinance allows, then I think that’s fine,” Peters said.

Officials said the order would only take effect 10 days after it was passed.

They said that if the business owners meet the requirements, they can apply as early as the next couple of weeks.

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