Texas lawmakers attempt to make smoking bans the norm

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The rest of the state of Texas could go smoke-free the way Nacogdoches, Kilgore, Longview, and Tyler have already gone.

The Texas House of Representatives have approved a measure banning smoking in public places across the state.

All eyes are now on a state senate committee which could sign off on the bill, sending it straight to the Governor's desk.

East Texans in Austin and here at home are already sounding off about the proposal.

It was tucked away as an amendment to a critical spending bill aimed at saving the state $30 million in Medicaid costs. If approved, smoking would be banned inside restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and anywhere that's licensed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and regulated by a local health department.

"Restaurants I'm completely fine with. Bars I'm a little on the fence about," says Corey Howard, a smoker.

Some are already breathing a smoke-free sigh of relief.

"If they could see people who have those effects of smoking, then no one would want to smoke. We know absolutely for certain secondhand smoke kills people" says Kristin Bryant, a nurse.

Representative Myra Crownover authored the original bill, supported by East Texas' Representative Leo Berman.

As it's written now, the statewide ban would replace less restrictive local bans already in place. There are strict smoking ordinances in more than 30 cities across the state, including Tyler. Smoking's even illegal at city bus stops here.

"While I appreciate the legislature looking at it for the rest of the state, I'd have a problem with them interfering with what we've chosen to do," says Gary Landers, Tyler City Attorney.

Certain pool halls and cigar bars would be exempt from the law. The Texas Senate Committee vote is expected soon. The legislative session ends next week.

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