5/19/2009 4:52 PM
Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton) declared the statewide smoking ban dead for this session but declared they'll be back in 2011.
"We are disappointed today because we missed an opportunity for a healthier Texas," said Crownover. "Next session starts right now. We will work hard ... I think this is an interesting issue because it's an education issue ... Second-hand smoke isn't an annoyance ... it literally kills people."
Crownover mentioned that the oil and gas industry spends millions on clean air for marginal health benefits, but yet the state does very little about air quality indoors.
"The highly-paid lobbyists of Big Tobacco have scored a short-term victory, to the detriment of Texans' health, but it will be short-lived," said Ellis.
The bill passed the House State Affairs Committee but was not placed on the calendar in time. The Senate companion bill lacked the requisite two-thirds vote to suspend the senate's regular order of business.
"The smoking ban, while well-intentioned, is a violation of a business owners private property rights, consumer choice, and individual responsbility," said Peggy Venable, Texas Director for Americans for Prosperity, which opposes the ban. "This is not the appropriate role of government. But the people who want to legislate behavior will be back. And we will be vigilant in protecting freedom and liberty."
Smoke-Free Texas, a coalition of health groups including the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, praised the bill authors for not watering down the bill into something less-than-meaningful just to pass something.
Said James Gray of Smoke-Free Texas and the American Cancer Society, “Although Smoke-Free Texas includes a number of well-respected, powerful organizations with millions of supporters in Texas, apparently our supporters can’t overcome the deep pockets and political power of Big Tobacco and their front groups.
He added, “Our coalition is disappointed that the smoke-free bills are dead for this legislative session. We absolutely know there were the votes to pass these bills on both the House and Senate floors. Unfortunately, a few key lawmakers blocked opportunities for these votes.