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Smoking ban ordinances have sparked debate around the state, nation

Paris City CouncilThe proposed ordinance presented at the Paris City Council Meeting Monday night has sparked debate in the community about the legality of the smoking ban.

As the number of cities and states passing ordinances similar to the one proposed in Paris is growing, legal challenges to indoor smoking bans have consistently failed.

According to Smoke-Free Texas, 29 states are “smoke-free states” meaning they do not allow smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces.

Sates with comprehensive smoking bans include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Last year, North Texas representative, Denton Republican Myra Crownover filed a bill (House Bill 400) to make all businesses in the sate of Texas smoke-free. This isn’t the first time a smoking ban bill has been proposed in the Texas House. In both 2007 and 2011 bills passed in the house but were squashed in the state Senate, never even getting to a vote.

However, Crownover’s home town of Denton recently passed a local ordinance making the city smoke-free.  Smoking ordinances across North Texas vary from 100-percent smoke-free in Dallas, to separately ventilated smoking areas in Fort Worth, to mixed and limited smoking areas in Irving.

Other Texas cities that have adopted comprehensive smoking bans that do not allow smoking in any workplace, restaurant or bar include: Abilene, Alton, Austin, Arlington, Baytown, Beaumont, Benbrook, College Station, Copperas Cove, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Denton, Eagle Pass, El Paso, Flower Mound, Granbury, Grand Prarie, Horsehoe Bay, Houston, Laredo, Marshall, McKinney, Missouri City, Nagodoches, Pearland, Plano, Robinson, Rosenburg, San Angelo, San Antonio, Socorro, Southlake, Tyler, University Park, Vernon, Victoria and Woodway.  And other cities are either in the process or have recenlty passed smoking bans.

In August 2003, the Texas Department of Health released a ‘One-year Assessment of the Impact of a Smoking Bank on Restaurant and Bar Revenues in El Paso.’

The report summary stated: “Based on the currently available sales tax and mixed beverage tax data, there have been no significant adverse changes in restaurant or bar revenues in El Paso since the comprehensive smoking ban was implemented. These findings are consistent with prior reports from other cities in Texas and across the United States that smoke-free indoor air ordinances do not affect restaurant revenues, and with the effect of the total smoking ban on restaurant and bar revenues in California.”

A  similar, prior study of four Texas cities with smokefree indoor air ordinances found that implementation of a smokefree indoor air ordinance did not have any adverse change in restaurant revenues in Plano and Wichita Falls, and was actually associated with an increase in total restaurant revenues in Arlington and Austin (source: Texas Department of Health).

The study found a ban on smoking in public places to cause little economic impact on private business, while having a positive impact on public health. A recent study sponsored by the Center for Disease Control (DCD) found that smoking bans reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack. The incidence of heart attacks falls by up to 47 percent in areas with smoking bans, the study concluded.

A bipartisan committee of Paris citizens equally divided between those and against a smoking ban will consider the issue and report back to the Paris City Council in short order. The council said it hopes the committee can come up with a proposal that both sides can agree upon.

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