Smoking in public areas has been contested for at least the last decade. Gone are the days when smokers and non-smokers were separated by a small wall or a walkway in restaurants. But bars have never had such a distinct and “clear” division. However, the anti-smoking attitude which has gained momentum in the last decade has yet to leave its mark on most of Texas.But do government agencies have the right to legislate lifestyle changes? The votes are in and most say yes to not smoking in open areas. Fort Worth has legislated a ban on smoking in restaurants but not bars.
In 2002, El Paso was the first city in Texas to ban smoking in all public areas, workplaces, restaurants and bars. Unlike the El Paso ban, the Fort Worth ban will affect only restaurants. Since January 2004 five states – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and New York – have already banned smoking in public areas, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2004, Ireland banned smoking in all public areas, but some pub owners opted to build smoking extensions to their bars in order to keep their smoking clientele.
Smoking is generally considered a social affair but it becomes problematic in a closed atmosphere because there is no control on just how social you want your smoke to be.
Kudos to the Fort Worth council for placing citizen health above tobacco enthusiasm.
However the ban is still too little too late. The evidence of the dangers of smoking merits more than merely a Fort Worth and El Paso ban, despite the ban being more pervasive in El Paso. Texas should follow the example of New York and California and jump on the bandwagon of kicking the Marlboro man to the curb.
Photo editor Michael Bou-Nacklie for the editorial board.