Split On Smoking - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Split On Smoking

Split On Smoking

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Wichita Falls could soon ban smoking in public places if the city decides to pass a possible ordinance that will be proposed in less than a month by the city’s health department. The ban would mean no more lighting up in banks, bars, restaurants, parks even workplaces.

"I don't think their personal right should be taken away, but then it should be very controlled," said Jimmy Witt a self described avid bowler.

Witt said he does not smoke, he said that smoking lead to the death of his mother and father. Village Bowl General Manager Marc Pope, a non smoker, said that his business has gone to great lengths to make sure that no one feels alienated.

"We have a smoke free environment that we've gone to great extremes to try to provide for the non smoking bowlers. We also have a smoking area for those that do choose to smoke," said Pope.

Inside Village Bowls isolated room called the smokehouse jail I met bowler and smoker Karren Bridges. She does not mind having to go to the smokehouse jail to smoke. Bridges said that she worries about her health and that of the other bowlers if she is forced to go outside.

"Because if we go outside, we get stuff on our shoes and we have a chance of going down that lane when we throw that ball," said Bridges.

The lanes must stay clean so that when a bowler makes their delivery they do not slip or stick to the surface.

Bowling or not, all three of them said that for them the ordinance is not a question of health, it’s a question of what a person can and cannot do.

"If you take away all these peoples rights, then you take away their freedom," said Witt.

The Wichita Falls Health Department Director Lou Kreidler sent Newschannel6 this statement.

"The Health Coalition of Wichita County was formed two years ago and is compromised of 40 leaders from the Community representing health and wellness, including local physicians, leaders of URHCS, Kell West, public health, MSU and various community groups. This group completed a Community Health Improvement plan from the plan they developed 6 goals they wanted to achieve. One of those goals was to reduce the number of people who smoke and the number of people impacted by secondhand smoke. A top priority of the group was to have a comprehensive smoke free ordinance. Which is defined as 100% smoke free work sites, including bars and restaurants."

The letter went on to say.

"Studies have shown that communities that implement a comprehensive smoking ordinance, including restaurants and bars result in a 15% decrease in heart attack hospitalizations and 24% decrease in hospitalizations from respiratory disease and higher health benefits."

The current ordinance was passed in 1994 and was the strongest ordinance in the state at that time today the department argues it is one of his weakest ordinances in the state. The ordinance will be presented and possibly voted on by the Wichita Falls City Council June 17th meeting.

Jack Carney, Newschannel6