Levelland Bans Outdoor Smoking Because of Dangerous Fire Conditions - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/20/06

Levelland Bans Outdoor Smoking Because of Dangerous Fire Conditions

A statewide burn ban has one city taking the "ban" a step further. The city of Levelland says they are not going to allow smoking outdoors. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel explains why the city council decided to make an ordinance against smoking.

"We are not limiting them from smoking. This is not a war against smokers." Levelland's Police Chief Toney Cowan says the temporary ordinance is for public safety, not to try and make smokers kick the habit. "This is just a precautionary measure to protect our property, protect our town. We don't want to go through what Cross Plains went through with our whole town burning up."

With more and more grass fires spreading daily, winds gusting at up to 40 miles an hour, and no rain in sight, the Levelland city council feels they need to take a proactive role in preventing potentially dangerous fires. "We'd like to do something to prevent the fires. It's easier than trying to put them out."

Levelland's City Attorney Richard Husen wrote the ordinance. He says violators will be ticketed, but only those who leave lit cigarettes unattended to burn, or if they flick cigarettes out of car windows.

When we asked how long the ordinance last the attorney answered with a question himself, "When will it rain?" And until that question can be answered, smokers in Levelland will need to keep their cigarettes out of dry areas.

Levelland officials are also taking other preventative steps, like strongly enforcing weed control in neighborhoods, and providing three dump spots for used Christmas trees and other dry brush.

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