Environmental health inspectors were very busy answering some last minute questions Thursday.
Some businesses, like 50th Street Caboose, spent more than $100,000 installing separate ventilation for their smoking sections. But other businesses did not want to spend the money and chose to go smoke-free.
More than 60% of people voted three years ago for stricter smoking regulations in Lubbock public places. "When the ordinance first passed we had over 400 permits to allow smoking. Then, when we implemented the fee the next year, that went down to about 325 permits. And it's steadily gone down as people have chosen to go smoke-free," said Lead Environmental Inspector, Bridget Faulkenberry.
The ordinance says that no business can allow smoking unless they have a separate ventilation system and enclosed area. There's an exception to the ordinance. If the business is a bingo hall, hotel or motel, or sports grill, smoking is allowed anywhere in the facility. 18 restaurants have been declared sports grills by the city's zoning committee. Fox and Hound is actually smoke-free now because it doesn't pass as a sports grill, but the managers tells NewsChannel 11 they are appealing their case to the city.
Faulkenberry says she has spent the day explaining the ordinance to many businesses inquiring at the last minute. "We're getting calls from small businesses and large businesses asking us if their set up is ok or not. So we're going to go visit several facilities and explain to them about the ordinance," said Faulkenberry.
Dr.Donna Bacchi, who helped push the smoking ban three years ago, says the ban will make for a healthier Lubbock. "Sure, there's going to be businesses out there that will try and buck the system and really fight it. But I really think the majority of people realize this is the healthy thing to do," said Dr. Bacchi.
Environmental health inspectors say that only a couple of businesses in town refuse to comply. But, Faulkenberry says businesses could face up to a $2,000 fine for non-compliance.
The following 18 establishments have been designated as sports grills and are therefore exempt from the ban and will allow smoking in the building: