If Alvarado has her way, cigar bars will be history in Houston

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If (temporarily only a) Councilwoman Carol Alvarado gets her way, Houston’s cigar bars will have to shut down to comply with her push to get a citywide smoking ban passed (via Greater Houston Weekly):

The Houston City Council is looking at broadening the current antismoking ordinance that currently bans smoking in restaurants. That means bars and even cigar bars could soon be hanging up no-smoking signs.

“We’ll look at what other cities have done,” Councilmember Carol Alvarado, chair of the Environmental and Public Health Committee, said regarding cigar bars and stores. “But my goal has been to ban smoking in any workplace.

Well, one might think a councilmember would be interested in keeping thriving businesses thriving, not shutting them down. One might also think that cigar bar patrons would expect to be exposed to cigar smoke. But the former mayor pro tem has a goal, and what Carol wants, Carol gets.

“I guess they’re trying to put us out of business,” said Geoff Neal, general manager at Downing Street. “I’d like to tell City Council what I think about that. They should leave it up to the marketplace. There should be smoking bars and nonsmoking bars and let the public decide where they want to go.”

Downing Street, frequented by state senators, city councilmembers (including Alvarado, on occasion), lawyers, pro athletes and even doctors, is the premier cigar spot in town, but it’s hardly the only place one can light up a stogie.

Mike Wells, the former general manager at Downing Street, now owns the infamous no-sign-lounge Marfreless, a well-known spot for romantic liaisons, martinis and smokers.

“I don’t smoke, I don’t like it, but most of my customers do,” Wells said. “They need to stay out of it and let us run our business. It’s not illegal to smoke so don’t tell me they can’t do it in my bar. If they want to make it illegal than make it illegal to make them and sell them.”

Geez, don’t give Councilwoman Alvarado any ideas. Mayor White’s liable to let her run with that one, too.

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