By Karen Daniels
It’s a difficult situation when there’s no clear-cut solution that will appease everyone. That’s the task that faces Stafford’s City Council and Mayor as they decide what course of action to take on the public smoking ban. Will their decision lean toward the business owner or those dining in restaurants? Will it be far reaching or limited? At the July 18 meeting, Councilmembers and the Mayor will discuss their views on the potential scope and implementation of a ban. Here’s a snapshot of what was said by citizens who spoke at the hearing:
For a Ban
Stafford MSD’s Board President said that health and welfare should outweigh economic repercussions. He asked for a full comprehensive ban in all public places; with the one exception of cigar stores. A member of a committee for tobacco education talked about the $3,400 difference between the non-smoking employee and the smoking employee. The figure is calculated from lost production time and cost of pharmaceuticals for the smoker. A woman from Missouri City spoke of the detrimental allergic reaction she has when smoke gets into her lungs. If her inhaler won’t clear the fluid that builds, she has to go to the hospital for treatment. And the driving force of TATU reminded the Council that employees subjected to a smoking environment should not have to work in such toxic conditions.
Against a Ban
A retired school teacher and resident of Stafford wants new companies to continue to come to Stafford because of the business friendly climate they are known for–a climate that lets business owners determine what’s best for them. A second generation owner of the Stafford Ice House said that 90% of their customers smoke, and if a ban is passed, they will lose business. A Stafford resident whose family has lived here since 1915 does not want more government involvement. The decision should be left to the property owners. The proprietor of the Pour House offered an interesting analogy about the working conditions in a bar: If the ocean makes you sea-sick, don’t apply for a job on a fishing vessel. And if you are bothered by smoke, don’t work in a bar.
The public is allowed and even encouraged to attend the next council meeting, and though you will not be able to voice your opinions (that’s what the hearing was for) the presence of the public will speak volumes.