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News Summary

Houston lawmaker pushes for state-wide smoking ban

Publication Date: 1/18/2011
  • Author:khou.com staff
  • Publication:KHOU

A lawmaker from Houston is proposing strict legislation that would limit smoking to homes and hotel rooms across the state.

"This bill will save money this bill will save lives. This bill makes sense," said Sen. Rodney Ellis (D). "There is overwhelming public support for a smoking ban in public places."

Various versions of the bill have been put forward in the last several legislative sessions.

In 2009, it got very close to passing, and now the legislators behind the bill are more determined than ever.

In 2009, a similar bill got past the House and moved out of committee in the Senate. Ellis said he thinks the effort gets more support every time it’s proposed. "It is sort of like trying to push a ball up a hill. You have to get momentum. I think that we have got over the last couple of sessions some momentum," Ellis said.

The new bill would allow smoking in private homes and designated hotel rooms, but virtually everywhere else would be off-limits.

A ban on smoking in most public places is already law in several major cities around the state. Houston’s smoking ban went into effect in 2007, and despite dire predictions from the restaurant association lobby, it has been a success.

Twenty-nine states have a statewide smoking ban, including Virginia, the home to Phillip Morris.

The bill does include an exemption for cigar bars and some outdoor porch areas.

There is an identical bill also proposed for the state House. If it passes, the law would go into effect in September.