Starting in September, you may not be able to light up in a Lubbock bar anymore. Austin and Dallas already have smoking bans at all places of employment, including bars. Now, state legislators have filed a bill that would extend the smoking ban to the entire state.
The authors of House Bill 5 and Senate Bill 544 say a smoking ban in all places of employment would protect the health of employees. Opponents of the bill worry the ban would hurt their profits and they don't think the government should control their private business.
Caprock Cafe has two locations in Lubbock, a smoking location at 34th and Indiana and a non-smoking location at 82nd and Slide. Owner David Cea says their non-smoking location appeals to many customers. "We're actually seeing the non-smoking customers that live on that side of town driving all the way across town to avoid the smoke," said Cea.
That's why he supports a statewide smoking ban, even if it means he would have to change the smoking policy at his 34th Street location. He thinks the non-smoking location benefits employees' productivity as well. "We don't have employees taking smoke breaks, so they're more productive. We don't have employees with near as many sinus infections, so they're healthier," said Cea.
Not all bar owners agree. Many fear a smoking ban would hurt business. "It's gonna hurt a lot of bars that are strictly bars because they can't go in there and smoke cigarettes anymore," said Chimy's General Manager Raymond Morin.
Cea thinks the ban is inevitable because 24 states have already passed similar laws. He also thinks while bars may see a dip in business at first, as long as the ban is across the board, it shouldn't affect the bottom line too much.
The bill defines a bar as an enclosed, indoor facility, so outdoor patio areas would not apply.