East Texans support potential statewide smoking ban

Cigarette sales in some gas stations aren't suffering
Cigarette sales in some gas stations aren't suffering
Patrons are free to smoke in a designated area outside
Patrons are free to smoke in a designated area outside

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - When Nacogdoches enacted a city-wide smoking ban, Gloria Cardenas says her cigarette sales didn't take the hit.

"It's about the same. Some people I guess stopped smoking, but now they are asking for electric cigarettes," said Cardenas, the co-manager of Lucky Stop #2. The proposed bill would ban smoking in bars and restaurants, but you can still smoke in outdoor seating areas. It's a step Nacogdoches has already taken, but some East Texans say the ban needs to be statewide.

"We're a mobile society. Even though Texas is a big state, we travel from city to city and I think again the message that needs to be heard is this is a public health effort," said DawnElla Rust, member of the Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition.

Representative James White says lawmakers' focus should be on the budget and education in the special session rather than a smoking ban.

"If we can keep one person from starting smoking, we've done a good job in protecting the state's budget on Medicaid, Medicare insurance, private insurance-type thing," said Rust.

White says it would be difficult to "support any measure that expands the government at the expense of individual liberty."

"I don't like being around smoke, but it is a legal substance and there is a point here about personal freedom," continued White.

"I know an individual has the right to smoke, but as an individual, I have the right to breath healthy air," said Rust.

Some restaurants reported that at first the ban affected them, but then everything returned to normal. They say they still have customers that wish they could smoke and ask for the ashtray.

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All Rights Reserved.