Group asks council to ban smoking inside Lubbock businesses
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The West Texas Smoke Free Coalition and Smoke-Free Texas Coalition is calling on the Lubbock City Council to ban smoking inside businesses.
For ex-smoker Lydia Hockenberry, going to work at the bingo hall is a cloudy experience.
"It can get pretty smokey in here and it can get pretty thick," Hockenberry said. "We have exhaust fans. We have to keep the exhaust fans on to kind of help circulate the air and kind of clear the smoke out. In the summertime, when we turn the exhaust fans on, it pulls all of the air conditioning out."
The West Texas Smoke Free Coalition is working to help employees, like Hockenberry, avoid that second hand smoke.
"Our coalition is here today to request that the Lubbock City Council direct our city attorney to draft a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in order to protect the employees and citizens of Lubbock by providing them clean air to breathe," Chairman of the West Texas Smoke Free Coalition Matthew Harris said.
37 other cities in Texas have already passed smoke-free ordinances.
"Lubbock should be number 38," Harris said.
If passed, the ordinance would only ban smoking in indoor business areas. So patios, decks or outdoor smoking sections would still be allowed.
"Some businesses have decided to be non-smoking, and they're very successful. But they're focused on that," concerned citizen Scott Stephenson said. "There's a lot of other businesses, depending on the socio-economic customer base, people ought to be able to decide, 'hey, our customers want this.' Or not."
For bingo player Luz Jimenez, the bingo hall is the only place she CAN smoke.
"I have two little boys at home," Jimenez said. "I know that it's bad to be smoking around them. So this is one of the times that I get out and enjoy myself. I don't want to be around them smoking in the house."
Those opposed to the ordinance say if the employees don't like the smoke they should work somewhere else.
"It's up to people to decide if they want to go in there. And it's up to the employees to decide if they want to work there," Stephenson said.
"For employees to have to uproot their lives because of someone else's habit, that's unfair to those employees," Harris said.
Unfair to employees like Hockenberry who has worked bingo for 27 years.
"Well I'm not forced to be here. It's my job," Hockenberry said. "I love my job. I guess I could go find another job, but I don't want to do so."
At least 69 chemicals in secondhand smoke are known to cause cancer.
The West Texas Smoke Free Coalition is requesting that all Lubbock citizens contact their city council person and direct them, as their constituent, to direct the city attorney to draft the ordinance.