Doctors are Weighing In On Smoking Ordinance

Doctors are Weighing In On Smoking Ordinance

Members of the health coalition have details on why this smoking ordinance should pass for health reasons.
Members of the Wichita Falls Bar Owners Association say they are frustrated with the proposed smoking ordinance, but health experts are concerned not only for smokers but even for those who are around smoke.

If passed the ordinance would prohibit smoking inside any business. It also requires smokers to be twenty feet away from the door of the business while smoking, and five feet away from businesses only open to ages eighteen and up.

Bar owners in Wichita Falls are concerned about their business if the proposed smoking ordinance passes and say they are not satisfied with what the city has proposed.

"Basically it blankets every bar and restaurant in town, well every bar and restaurant in town is not the same," Steve Wilkinson, part owner of the bar and restaurant P2, says.

For Wilkinson it is not only business he's concerned, but also how to implement parts of the ordinance.

The Wichita Falls Bar Owners Association asked the health district to work with them and they updated the ordinance allowing eighteen and up businesses to only require smokers to stand five feet from the door to smoke. However, even with the change, this still isn't what they want.

"You step two feet five feet, I can see you. So, I can't police a twenty feet rule. And we talked to them about that, and obviously they listened. Um, the five feet rule is better, but it's still not what we're looking for," Wilkinson says.

But members of the health coalition in Wichita Falls feel this is something that needs to be done.

"Several patients who have never had a history of tobacco but have family members who do or work in environment where there's tobacco exposure and have developed life threatening head and neck cancers," Dr. Grisel with Head and Neck Surgical Associates says.

Dr. Grisel says this will make Wichita Falls a healthier community, and show visitors what is important to this community.

"Having a tobacco ordinance allows our community to make a statement of how we support healthy choices," Dr. Grisel says.

But Wilkinson and other local bar owners say surrounding cities have an ordinance that they believe works, where if seventy percent of what a business sells is alcohol then customers can smoke inside that business. This is what members say they hope to see in Wichita Falls.

"The hopes of the Bar Owner's Association is to follow the same guidelines that Fort Worth follows, which is a 70/30 ordinance," Wilkinson says.

The president of the Wichita Falls Bar Owners Association will be voicing all of their concerns on Tuesday at city council but there will be no vote next week and no public input in the discussion.

If passed, the ordinance would go into effect in January of 2015.
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