Wichita Falls Smoking Ordinance Goes Into Effect

Wichita Falls Smoking Ordinance Goes Into Effect

Thursday is the day the smoking ordinance goes into effect after a year of petitioning in Texoma.  Lighting up outside of a business is regulated and places that currently allow smoking have two years to comply with the ordinance.

Lou Kreidler, Director of Health for the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District said there is no way a business can pay their way out of this.  She believes that would be putting a price tag on the health of people.

"It does start protection for our community," said Kreidler. "The distance to the door way will go into effect, so if you're an establishment that serves those over the age of 18, it's 5-feet from the door way.  Those who serve an under 18 population, its 20-feet from the door.  So people will be able to go into any public place, any retail store and not have to walk through a cloud of smoke."

Kreidler said when she worked on the ordinance, she worked very closely with bar and restaurant owners to cater their needs.

A grand-father clause will allow those that currently allow smoking, two years to comply with the ordinance.  This gives them an extended amount of time to change their business plans.

John Oliver, a Texoman turning 77, said he's in such good health because he's never picked up a cigarette and urges many to do the same.

"Young people, teenagers and grown-ups, if you've never started, don't start," said Oliver.

Although, many business owners believe this could have a negative impact on their businesses, Kreidler disagrees.

"So I don't believe that there will be a negative impact," said Kreidler. "Actually, what I think the bar owners will find is that people, who won't currently go into a bar, will come out and have a drink or enjoy the music because they can do that within a smoke free environment."

Electronic cigarettes are also included in this ordinance.  Smoke shops must sell them behind the counter where they are no longer accessible to minors.

Kreidler said the game plan is to have a truly comprehensive ordinance and freedom from indoor second hand smoke.

Brody Carter, Newschannel 6