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News Summary

Bill banning smoking in public places closer to becoming law

Publication Date: 3/14/2011
  • Author:Matt Ernst
  • Publication:MYfoxLUBBOCK.COM

A bill to ban public smoking in Texas is one step closer to becoming law. It's already passed a Senate committee and now heads for a full Senate vote.

If passed every public place would become smoke-free, including bars and restaurants. Lawmakers supporting it say it will save money and lives. But opponents say it infringes on private businesses.

Smoking is allowed in many Lubbock restaurants and bars. But if this becomes law the only places smokers could get their fix would be restaurant and bar patios, tobacco bars, tobacco shops and private residences. It would prohibit smoking within 15 feet of building entrances, windows and ventilation systems. A violation would result in a Class C misdemeanor.

According to a recent study conducted by three different Texas institutions, if the bill passes it could potentially save Texas around $404 million every two years because it would reduce health care costs and increase productivity in the workplace.

Some businesses are already seeing the advantages of non-smoking locations. Caprock Cafe has a location for smokers and non-smokers. General Manager Troy Davidson works in the smoke-free environment.

"Every day I walk around here and talk to new first time guest in this restaurant and they are as excited as can be to know that there is a place that offers a sports bar feel but that it's non-smoking," says Davidson, who adds the two restaurants cater to completely different crowds.

The smoke-free location serves more families while the smoking restaurant is usually packed with Tech students. But Davidson doesn't believe the ban would have much of an impact on business.

"Many of the people that are in here enjoying happy hour and meeting family and friends, they are smokers and you'll watch them from time to time walk outside have a cigarette and come back in. They do not view it as a negative what so ever."

Baselice and Associates conducted a recent survey and found that 90 percent of voters say they would go to bars and restaurants more if a smoke-free law was in place.

The bill still has a way to go before it becomes law. If passed this legislative session, it would take effect September 1.