Texas Legislature Close to Passing Statewide Ban on Public Smoking
Another effort to ban smoking in all public places in Texas is making its way through the legislature, but it could actually become law this time. It's been tacked into an amendment in the House version of the state budget bill, which the legislature must pass.
State Rep. Myra Crownover’s (R-Denton) measure bans smoking in all public places, including nightclubs and restaurants that don’t have an outdoor area for smokers. It also forbids workplace smoking in the seating area of outdoor sports events.
The measure was added to the House budget bill by a 73-66 vote. It now goes to a House-Senate conference committee, which will shape the bill into a form acceptable to both chambers and send it back through both chambers for a final vote.
Supporters say the measure will save lives lost or diminished by the effects of second-hand smoke. Crownover also estimates the state will save $30 million under the ban.
Critics say business owners should be allowed to decide whether people may smoke on their property. Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) says he doesn't “think the state has any business banning a lawful product on private property.”
If the smoking ban survives the conference committee process, and the bill is signed into law, the ban will take effect September 1st. It provides for fines ranging from $50 on first offense, to $500 for repeat offenders.