IPCPR Says Smoking Bans Are Like Gun Controls as Mansfield, TX City Council Considers Tightening Existing Ban

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The sleepy city of Mansfield, Texas, has become a hotbed of controversy over a move that could force restaurants to completely enclose their separately ventilated smoking areas. "Smoking bans, like gun controls, are emotional issues. They both fly in the face of our constitutional rights," said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. The Mansfield City Council is expected to consider the move at an upcoming Council meeting.

The sleepy suburban city of Mansfield, Texas, with its 58,000 residents located some 25 miles southeast of Fort Worth, has become a hotbed of controversy over a move that could force restaurants to completely enclose their separately ventilated smoking areas.

The Mansfield City Council is expected to consider the enclosure requirement at an upcoming meeting.

A city ordinance nearly a decade ago banned smoking in all city buildings, public elevators, stairwells, restrooms and service lines. Owners of restaurants could allow smoking only in areas of their businesses equipped with separate air purification systems. Restaurants with fewer than 50 seats were exempted. .

"Smoking bans, like gun controls, are emotional issues. They both fly in the face of our constitutional rights," said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

"Business owners have the right to decide whether or not to allow smoking in their places of business. And their employees and customers have the right to decide whether or not to work in or patronize those businesses," said McCalla. "They've already taken that right from most business owners in Mansfield and now City Council is considering to impinge further on the rights of restaurant owners by telling them how to design their restaurants. When will it stop?"

McCalla blamed anti-smoking forces for spreading misinformation regarding secondhand smoke adding that even if secondhand smoke were an issue, the Council still does not have the right to tell Mansfield restaurant owners how to configure their establishments.

"The Surgeon General's Report of 2006 has been misinterpreted regarding secondhand smoke. The 707-page report says no fewer than 108 times that evidence regarding the health ramifications of secondhand smoke is inconclusive. Even OSHA - the Occupational Safety and Health Administration - does not consider secondhand smoke to be a workplace issue of any consequence." McCalla explained.

"No one who catches an occasional whiff of secondhand smoke is putting their health at risk. That's a fallacy. Will we ban cheap perfume next just because we don't like the smell?" McCalla asked.

Contact:    Tony Tortorici
    678/493-0313
    tony @ tortoricipr.com

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