Smoking ban gains new support in Texas
Publication Date: 2/22/2009
- Author:Emily Ramsow
- Publication:The Dallas Morning News
It's not the prospect of a statewide smoking ban that worries Charles Nolet, who owns cigarette-friendly Denton bars. It's the fear that it won't be strong enough. "If it's strict, and everybody has to comply with it hard core, we'll all get by," restaurant owner Charles Nolet said. "If there are gray areas where some of our competitors can still smoke, that's what will kill us."
Nolet's unease represents progress for supporters of a statewide smoking ban, who have long found bar and restaurant owners as vehemently opposed as tobacco companies. On Monday, the Texas Restaurant Association voted to support the measure - one they say would "level the playing field" for establishments across Texas. "
With 28 Texas cities and 24 states now smoke-free, it's just a win-win for that industry," said state Rep. Myra Crownover, the Denton Republican carrying the House bill to ban smoking in all the state's public places. "What people forget is that for every one person who wants to smoke at a restaurant or bar, there are six or seven people who don't go to that establishment because they allow it."
One group unconvinced? Civil libertarians - who say it's inappropriate for the government to intrude on private property or take away personal freedoms. They're joined by the tobacco lobby, which has contributed more than $112,000 to the campaigns of Texas lawmakers in the last two years, according to Dallas Morning News research.