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Smoking ban to be resuscitated

Publication Date: 6/2/2011
  • Author:BJ Lewis
  • Publication:Denton Record Chronicle

The fight isn't over for state Rep. Myra Crownover and her stand against smoking in workplaces.

She plans to file a bill during the Texas Legislature's current special session after the ban was stripped from House Bill 1811--a fiscal matters bill--last week in the final days of the regular session.

"As fate would have it, we have this special session, and it gives me an excellent opportunity to get it done," Crownover, R-Denton, said.

She said several legislators have told her that they see why she is working on the ban and many have said they would now support the initiative if given another opportunity.

"It’s an education issue," Crownover said. “When you realize it's not just secondhand smoke-- it's benzene, cyanide, particulate matter; it harms people and eventually kills them."

In addition to benefiting public health, she said the ban could save the state money, which is why she attached it to the fiscal matters bill.

"Earlier this year, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission estimated that a statewide ban on smoking in public places would save the state over $30 million in Medicaid savings over the next two years," she said.

Opponents say the ban would violate the right of businesses and individuals to keep the government out of their private affairs. One senator told reporters last week that the majority of the Senate negotiating team didn't want the ban, thus making it easy to strip from the finance bill.

Crownover has been working to get the ban passed for six years.

"We passed this legislation in committee in both chambers and won a major victory on the House floor," she said.

Now she is filing it as a standalone bill and also as an amendment to a bill dealing with fiscal matters.

"Science, logic and reasoning are on our side now, and 10 years from now the idea of smoking in a restaurant will be as bizarre an idea as smoking on an airplane is today," she said.