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Bus stop smoking banned by council

DALLAS — The city of Dallas has banned smoking within 25 feet of school bus stops if children are present.

Dallas City Council

Dallas City Council

January 07, 2014

DALLAS — The city of Dallas has banned smoking within 25 feet of school bus stops if children are present.

The council approved the provision — an amendment to a previously adopted ordinance banning smoking from parks, public transit bus shelters, and city and school sports fields and facilities — by an 8-to-1 vote on Monday night.

While she eventually voted "yes," Councilor Jackie Lawson voiced concerns about what she felt were ambiguities in the ordinance. Her concerns mainly centered around the changing locations of school bus stops and what impact that may have on enforcement and public education about the law. She also said the city should find a way to post signs at bus stops that are the source of the most complaints or on the buses themselves.

"I would like to make a motion to table this until the next meeting so we could do a little more investigating on these things," Lawson said.

However, her motion to delay a vote on the ordinance died.

The amendment was first discussed at the council's Dec. 2 meeting. On Monday, Councilor Beth Jones reiterated her opinion the issue should be addressed in a different way, at least at first.

She suggested the Dallas School District send letters to parents asking them to avoid smoking around children at bus stops.

"To me this is something the school district should try to handle first with a kindly worded letter," she said. "I don't see any negatives with starting with that approach."

She did, however, see a negative in passing an ordinance first: bad public relations.

"It's just more control of what people are doing outside," she said. "There is a potential negative to us adopting this right now, but what is the potential negative to handing this over to (Dallas Superintendent) Christy (Perry) and letting the school send out a letter? So I just don't think it is worth us taking this approach at this time."

She added if the letter doesn't work, the city could consider taking further action.

Councilor LaVonne Wilson said taking no action and having the schools ask people not to smoke near bus stops could put the district in a difficult position because there would be no consequences for violating that request.

Other councilors noted the school district could still send out the letters in hopes of getting people to comply without enforcement.

"I don't see that the two have to be mutually exclusive," Councilor Kevin Marshall said.

Jones was the only councilor to vote "no" on the ordinance.