When the Edinburg City Council held a public hearing Tuesday about tough new smoking regulations, 6-year-old Aliana Villoria had something to say.
“When my mom was a bartender, they would smoke in her face,” Aliana said. “I think it’s not fair.”
Aliana’s mother, 29-year-old Analisa Karina Tristan of Edinburg, suffered a fatal brain aneurysm last year.
Her father, Michael Villoria, said the family believes secondhand smoke may have contributed to Analisa’s death.
Edinburg currently allows smoking in restaurants and bars, among other public places.
During the public hearing, several people told the City Council they support tougher smoking regulations.
“As a father, I wanted to protect my children,” said Councilman J.R. Betancourt. “And I know everyone here that I’ve talked to feels the same.”
The tougher regulations would prohibit smoking in sports arenas, gaming halls and “all enclosed areas within places of employment,” according to the city. Edinburg already prohibits cigarettes in city buildings and some public places, including shopping malls and grocery stores.
Business owners have already discussed the proposed regulations with the City Council.
“I’ve been in the restaurant business a long time,” said University Drafthouse owner Fred Hernandez. “It hasn’t affected all the other restaurants where there isn’t smoking I really doubt it would affect us.”
Sherry Bray, who puffed on an e-cigarette at University Drafthouse on Tuesday night, said any new smoking regulations wouldn’t stop her from visiting the bar and restaurant near the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
“If the food was good and they still allowed me to smoke outside, it wouldn’t be an issue,” Bray said.
Nobody who spoke at the hearing opposed the tougher smoking regulations. The City Council plans to vote on the new regulations Dec. 1.