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Council could soon stamp out smoking on bar patios

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TWC News: Council could soon stamp out smoking on bar patios
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Austin City Council could soon make smoking on bar and restaurant patios a thing of the past, but some owners say even considering the idea goes too far.

Fred Nelson owns Freddie's Place in South Austin. His outdoor seating area outnumbers what he has inside his restaurant.

For the most part, Nelson says he doesn't hear too many complaints.

"There are people who are militant nonsmokers. If someone is smoking a cigarette within 50 feet of them, it bothers them," Nelson said. "I'm a nonsmoker. Even still, I don't believe they should intrude on our rights any more than they do."

Nelson says he tries to accommodate customers disturbed by the smoke.

The idea of keeping smokers off patios hasn't yet made it before the City Council, but it has smokers like Jason Watson worried.

"If you give them this, they are going to take it further," Watson said.

Watson says he is trying to quit. In the meantime, he's considerate of those around him and never smokes near his daughter.

"If I am smoking a cigarette and there are several people eating dinner around me, of course I will go somewhere where they are not," Watson said.

But he feels an outright ban on smoking outside restaurants and bars could lead to laws controlling what he does on his own property.

Anti-smoking advocates say expanding the ban will encourage those like Watson to quit and make Austin a healthier place to live.

Live Tobacco Free Austin says—nationwide—an estimated $96 billion in health care costs is tied to smoking.

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