Residents on both sides of a proposed smoking-ban bill in Texas met head to head at a hearing Tuesday evening before the Texas Committee on State Affairs to debate whether the law is a necessary for the safety of public health or an attack on the rights of business and property owners, the Star (Texas) Telegram reported.
Two bills, Senate Bill 544 and House Bill 5, both propose the ban that would prohibit smoking in nearly all public places.
Earlier on Tuesday supporters of the ban delivered about 10,000 petition signatures to the capital to put the pressure on lawmakers to vote in favor of the legislation.
“The clock is ticking,” Cass Wheeler, a retired CEO of the American Heart Association who represents the group Smoke-Free Texas told the Star Telegram. “We are here to remind Texas lawmakers that Texans want a smoke-free state.”
Some business owners, however, argue local bans infringe on civil liberties and cause them to lose money as smoking customers take their business elsewhere.
Some cities, including Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas, already have ordinances prohibiting smoking in some or most public places. Smoke-Free America said it took a poll in January that found 68 % of Texans support a statewide ban.
With both bills still in committees, it may be some time before a decision is reached.