A Council committee unanimously approved an ordinance today requiring live music clubs to carry free earplugs in an effort to protect patrons from hearing damage.
The ordinance applies to establishments in the city with Class A or B liquor licenses, which allow for live music.
City Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3), author of the ordinance, said the goal is to prevent irreversible hearing damage among young people, which has risen sharply in recent years. He cited a statistic indicating about 20 percent of youth have experienced hearing damage by the age of 18.
Supporters of the ordinance include the clothing company Locally Grown, Globally Known, the Miracle-Ear Foundation and 3M.
The earplugs will be offered free of charge to businesses.
Critics of the ordinance, however, say it’s an overstep by the city to impose the regulation on businesses. Some have pointed out that it will cut into revenue streams for clubs like First Avenue, which sell earplugs. Someone who testified at the hearing noted the nightclub makes about $4,000 a year on earplug sales.
The full Council will vote on the proposed ordinance April 11.