Lufkin could be going 'smoke free' in the future

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Monday's decision to make Angelina College a smoke-free campus could be placing one East Texas city a step closer to being a "smoke-free" community.

Lufkin Mayor Bob Brown feels Lufkin should ban cigarettes in public places.

"I think that once people and citizens see that it can exist on a college campus, that it can exist in a city also," said Lufkin Mayor Bob Brown.

Brown commends the decision to go smoke and tobacco free on the Angelina College campus and hopes the city will soon follow suit. Brown says he's seen other communities ban public smoking, and they are still economically sound.

"As far as I'm concerned, I have looked in other cities and seen that it does not hurt retail," said Brown.

Angelina College President, Larry Phillips, says he and other officials have been in discussions about the new policy for the past year.

"The real reason you do this is to cut out secondary smoke and for public health and ultimately save lives. But, it also saves the college a great deal of money," said Phillips.

Phillips says the college spends thousands of dollars to clean sidewalks, water fountains, ash trays and stains after tobacco users.

By this fall, there will be absolutely no smoking on campus, and all ash trays will be removed.

"Tobacco will be prohibited on campus and only be able to use in the confines of your private vehicle," said Phillips.

Phillips says banning smoking will also protect the health of the hundreds of children that visit the campus each year.

"When there's children that smoke, it can cause ear infections, asthma, and all kinds of other health concerns," said Maci Herrington, Special Projects Coordinator of the Angelina County Coalition.

Like Mayor Brown, Herrington hopes the college is an example for the whole city.

"By Angelina College going smoke free, that is a huge step in the right direction for the community," said Herrington.

Phillips says the smoke and tobacco ban applies to all students, visitors, faculty, and staff on campus.

According to Texas Oncology, 25 states have joined in as "smoke-free states" with 11 states, including Texas considering "smoke-free" regulations. Although Texas does not currently have a statewide smoking ban, smoking bans exist in many cities throughout the state. Mayor Brown anticipates discussing the issue with the Lufkin City Council in the coming year.

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