Placing health restrictions on food serving establishments is nothing new. Similar ordinances, ranging from food storage to personnel hygiene and hand-washing to limiting materials used to cover walls and floors are all designed to protect the patrons as well as the staff from disease. We routinely tell these businesses how they can and can’t operate in the best public interest, primarily to protect community health. Creating a smoking ordinance for these establishments is no different.
To quote the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s article “Smaller Texas Towns Lag on Smoking Ordinances” (Jan. 23, 2012), “Some cities take a more libertarian approach, with no smoking restrictions”. My opponent openly endorsed this libertarian viewpoint in his Dallas Morning News Voters Guide (April 2012), saying in his opening statement, ”I am opposed to implementation of a smoking ban in Lewisville.” However, I fully believe our citizens deserve better, and that begins with leadership.
Smoking has already been eliminated from airplanes, and for good reason. Second-hand smoke has been proven to be as carcinogenic as primary smoke, and damaging to cell reproduction throughout the body. Despite imaginary boundary lines and area ventilation systems in restaurants, deadly smoke components including equally dangerous invisible gasses that drift elsewhere undetected.
To protect patrons, to protect our children and to protect restaurant staff from repeated and unsafe exposure to second-hand smoke, I recently asked City Staff to pursue a new no-smoking ordinance, which will address food service establishments. After years of the Council wrestling with the smoking issue, that request is in process now, and will include definitions for proximity of outdoor smoking, including outdoor patios, and public entrances.
I am not alone in my support of a smoking ordinance. Many, including State Representative Myra Crownover (R-Denton), also oppose my opponent’s unprotective libertarian approach. Crownover has already proposed a state-wide smoking ban. As of March 2012, 27 states have enacted statewide bans on smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants. More than 30 Texas cities have comprehensive smoke-free ordinances.
On Facebook (March 28 10:35am), my opponent posted on his campaign page “Lewisville may become smoke free. All the cool cities are doing it! I think we should let businesses make their own rules and let customers choose.” I am not sure what “cool cities” implies, unless it means cities who have failed to adopt no-smoking ordinances are backward in their thinking, in which case, it might be the one single detail we might agree on.
My proposal also comes at no cost to our City or its citizens, and has the potential to save untold thousands in healthcare costs. Rep. Crownover has said that a statewide ban would save $31 million in Medicaid and other healthcare-related costs in just two years, according to a Texas Department of Health and Human Services study.
Meanwhile, study after study has shown that restaurant revenue in cities with no-smoking ordinances are unchanged from income prior to the ordinance. That includes extensive long-term studies by CDC, NIH, states including North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Texas cities including El Paso and Houston, and a long list of other impartial groups.
So any notion that a no-smoking ordinance will somehow negatively impact the restaurant business in Lewisville is pure fiction, and has been soundly disproven time and again. Yet this fear tactic is my opponent’s stated position in Dallas Morning News Voters Guide, where he wrote, “. . . banning smoking will only add to the economic downturn we have been experiencing”. Clearly my opponent has failed to do the homework as I have, or he would otherwise know that his claim is simply unfounded and false.
Consequently, if anything, my position would result in a cost reduction to taxpayers, and absolutely no negative impact to the economy. And clearly there is no concern about the need for City funding to make this happen. Rep. Crownover went on to point out, as I have pointed out previously, that government regulates health and safety concerns such as how food is served in restaurants, adding that deaths are caused by secondhand smoke, but people often turn a blind eye to that. Only one candidate has shown leaderhip and taken a decisive position to take action on this issue in the best interest of our citizens.
I am that one candidate.