LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - 43,000 non-smokers die each year from second-hand smoke. It's a number Smoke Free Lufkin says needs to shrivel. According to a recent survey, Lufkin residents agree.
Smoke-Free Lufkin says it's time to put an ordinance into place. "I think everybody sees how important it is," said Janet Taylor, Executive director of the coalition.
The survey conducted by Smoke-Free Lufkin showed 85 percent of Lufkin's population supported a smoke-free city.
This doesn't mean absolutely no smoking. It just restricts smoking from public places, like restaurants.
"They can smoke at their own home, in their cars. We just don't want them smoking around other people that it could hurt their health," said Taylor.
According to doctor Sid Roberts of Memorial Hospital, Lufkin sits in a death zone.
Many smokers die from lung cancer, which is the number one cancer killer.
"We have a higher smoking rate in East Texas, and a higher death rate from lung cancer and heart disease," said Dr. Roberts.
Research shows that 73 Texans die daily from smoking alone.
Although 85 percent of the population say they support a smoke free Lufkin, there are still more steps before an ordinance will be put in place.
Taylor says the city council first has to agree to put the issue of smoking on an agenda.
"Until they have four people agree to put it on the agenda, there's nothing we can do."
While many agree that Lufkin should be smoke free, some say a law may interfere with the rights of citizens.
"There are people in our community, who think of a smoking ordinance as only a personal rights issue, but it's much more than that. This is a health issue that affects our entire community," said Dr. Roberts.
Right now, Lufkin residents are encouraged to share their thoughts on the issue with their city council members.
Another East Texas city is taking on whether to ban smoking in public places.
In Jacksonville, city council members recently agreed to vote on an ordinance that would ban smoking inside public buildings within city limits.
Officials say the vote will be taken at the council's next meeting.