Naked City

Jackie Does, Gus Doesn't

Elected officials must often give the public what it wants, even if it wants something the pol might not. Such is the dilemma faced by Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, the only smoker on the Austin City Council, as she considers a measure sponsored by Mayor Gus Garcia to ban smoking in all public places in Austin. Supported by the Austin Smoke-Free Coalition and released by the mayor's office in draft form this week, the ordinance would exempt only private residences, as well as certain meeting halls, hotel rooms, and retail tobacco stores.

In principle, Goodman says, she supports the ban as an effort to protect the health of Austinites -- especially children -- but she's "a little reluctant" to get behind the ordinance. "I have an understanding of the siege mentality smokers have been pushed into," she says. "But in this context I think there are a couple other principles that are more important." She is also concerned about the right of private business owners to make their own decisions and the general comfort of foreigners who visit Austin "who do smoke and can't just go cold turkey because they need to come here."

Mayoral aide Adam Smith says his boss doesn't believe the ordinance, if passed, will hurt Austin's nightlife or local businesses. Nevertheless, Garcia has met with several business owners worried that the ordinance will cause them to lose customers, and may hold several more meetings before the ordinance goes to council.

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