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News Summary

Statewide smoking ban dies - again - for another session

Publication Date: 2011-05-28
  • Author:Karen Brooks
  • Publication:Dallas News

A state lawmaker who has been trying for several years to ban smoking in public places statewide declared her effort dead for the session - after a cadre of senators on a conference committee refused to allow it to stay on a broad bill dealing with state fiscal matters, she said.

"What really bothers me is that somewhere in a small town in Texas there is an expectant mother working in a cafe who has no option, other than the job she has, to feed her family," said Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Lake Dallas. "Cigarette smoke is killing her and harming her unborn baby. We can't protect her because somewhere along the line we invented a constitutional right for her customers to blow benzene, cyanide, and particulate matter into her lungs? That is just sad."

In session after session, opponents have argued that the bill would create uneven playing fields for some restaurants and bars, or that it infringes on the rights of business owners to conduct their business how they want, or that it's a matter of local control and should remain up to the cities.

For the same years, Crownover has been arguing that employees deserve to be protected against workplace secondhand smoke, and that doing so would save the state $30 million in Medicaid bills for their treatment - not to mention costs related to work productivity.

She says the savings would have paid for 421 nursing home beds or Children's Health Insurance for over 9,000 Texas children.

Thwarted again this session, Crownover remains determined.

"I am proud of the work we did this session," she said. "We passed this legislation in committee in both chambers and won a major victory on the House floor. Science, logic, and reasoning are on our side now, and ten years from now the idea of smoking in a restaurant will be as bizarre an idea as smoking on an airplane is today."

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