Wichita Falls Smoking Ban Nears One Year Mark

Wichita Falls Smoking Ban Nears One Year Mark
Wichita Falls, TX -

Wednesday marks one year since Wichita Falls city leaders passed its highly divisive smoking ordinance.

"We had several restaurants who have taken the initiative either when they remodeled or when they sold and had new owners that have gone ahead and gone 100% smoke free," said Lou Kriedler, Director of Health at Wichita Falls – Wichita County Public Health District.

She told Newschannel 6 all of the restaurants that have gone into compliance are seeing an increase in business.

"They did have a few that didn't come at first, but they came back because people go to restaurants not to smoke but to enjoy the food," said Kriedler.

Newschannel 6 also learned out of the more than 200 restaurants and bars in Wichita Falls, 70 percent of restaurants are smoke-free but none of the bars have yet to comply.

"I think the bars' will come into compliance when it's time to do that. I don't think anyone expected them to come into early compliance."

Karen Waddle is moving back to Wichita falls from Las Vegas. Waddle said smokers should, "smoker before you go in." She wasn't here when the debate to go smoke free was lighting up.

However, she said city officials where she currently lives attempted to ban smoking in casinos, but that didn't pass. Despite that measure failing she has noticed other changes to protect non-smokers.

"They do have rooms where there are non-smokers where they can go in but most of the casinos are still smoking," said Waddle.

She said she does not see any problem with the ordinance in Wichita Falls. It's just something she said she will have to get used too.

"I'll just smoke before I go in or if I want a cigarette, I'll go back out and sit in my vehicle and smoke and go back in," said Waddle. "Maybe it will help me quit smoking."

Since Wichita Falls, passed its ordinance another Texoma town has also followed suit. In May, Burkburnett passed a smoking ordinance similar to Wichita Falls, but even more restrictive. Their ordinance when into effect immediately. Residents there also cannot smoke in public parks, recreation areas and on sidewalks adjacent to businesses.

All restaurants and businesses have until June 17, 2016 to comply with the city's smoking ordinance.

, Newschannel 6