Coalition proposes smoking ordinance for all public places

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Updated: 5/07 9:24 pm
The West Texas Smokefree Coalition is igniting an initiative to ban smoking in public, period. Right now the city ordinance bans smoking in most restaurants, and you can't smoke within 20 feet of a door to a public place. An exception is made for sports bars, cocktail lounges, restaurants with filtered smoking rooms and bingo halls.

"Our focus is to close some of those loopholes to create a safer work environment for the employees of Lubbock," said chairman Matthew Harris.

Some business owners said the current ordinance is enough, and they shouldn't have to deal with more rules and regulations.

"As a small businessman, I'm not crazy about anybody trying to tell me how to run my business. It really needs to be the business owners choice," said David Cea, owner of Caprock Cafe and Orlando's.

"Right now we have the perfect situation because there's a lot of people in this town that wanna smoke, that do smoke. For the coalition to tell a business 'Hey you gotta do it the way we want to do it, I think that that's overreaching and too much government," said Scott Stephenson, owner of Jake's.

Coalition members said they know first hand just how harmful smoking and second-hand smoke can be.

"When I was 8 years old, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He'd been smoking for 30 plus years, back when they didn't necessarily know it was bad for you or the citizens didn't know it was bad for you. Unfortunately he passed away from it and it's not an easy process to go through," said Michael Uryasz, a coalition member.

" I actually take my health and fitness pretty seriously and I was recently diagnosed with a chronic cough. I heard about the coalition and decided to help out," said Tech student Shay Kramer.

Harris is also a family law attorney and said second-hand smoke is the biggest complaint among his clients.

" I represent a lot of single mothers and most of whom are working in these environments, and that's a common complaint I hear from them, is that they are suffering while having to work in these smoke-filled rooms and it's just not good for them." 

Members of the coalition said this is a serious public health issue.

"The evidence is indisputable that second-hand smoke is deadly, especially for employees who are subjected to that secondhand smoke on a daily and nightly basis. They have to go to work every day, to pay the bills, to put food on the table. It's not fair to them that they have to be subjected to this just to pay the bills," said Uryasz.

Stephenson said his patrons know their health risks the minute they step into his bar.

"We have a sign on the front door and it tells people 'Hey, smoking is permitted in this establishment.' If you don't like it, go somewhere else."

The coalition is working with city attorneys to draft an a more far reaching ordinance for council's consideration. The coalition hosts meetings the first of every month at noon at 6630 Quaker Ave, Ste. E.
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Shark - 5/8/2014 2:39 PM
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A simple expansion, without rewording the whole law, would be to ban smoking for 30 feet (instead of 20 feet) from any entrance*, AND ban smoking on the public walkways**. I see [STORE X] employees about 20 feet from the door with their lit cigarettes, but on the store's sidewalk and adjacent to the archway that customers must pass through to enter/exit. The patrons still get smoke on their clothes, even at stores where smoking is allegedly banned under the current law. [*The archway, if the public goes through it to get to the door, should count as an entrance - **An employee walkup shall be considered as a public walkway]
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