To Smoke Or Not In A Public Building; The Hearing

Smoking in a public building, something the City of Tyler is considering not allowing. Last month, Tyler Mayor Joey Seeber announced the creation of a task force to come up with a recommendation on the city's smoking ordinance. In particular, should their be an across the board ban on smoking in all public places. Before the final draft is written, they are asking for your input.

Tuesday night a public hearing was held for citizens to voice their opinion on this controversial issue.

Hundreds have already emailed, and another hundred or so showed up to the public hearing to let their voice be heard.

"If people want to come to my place and smoke that is there business if they want to come to my place and not smoke that is there business also," said Carol Oxley, who owns and operate D's Coffee Shop in Tyler.

"I support the ordinance. Understanding that Texas is a big state last time I checked," said Arthur Burke, "There are plenty of places you can go to have a smoke in Texas without interfering with people's ability to go consume a meal."

Overwhelmingly though people showed their support of the ordinance, but a few were on the other side.

"I feel like everybody ought to have a freedom of choice as where they go to. I am tired of the government, state taking away our freedoms," said Carol Oxley, "I thought that was what the United States was made of: Basic freedom of choice."

"I believe that the laws should be made to protect you from me, and me from you, but not me from myself, and you from yourself," said Matthew Whitt, "Those are personal choice decisions and everybody has the decision to patron a certain establishment or not patron a certain establishment. At some point I am wondering when on the bill of rights we are going to add 'Void where prohibited by law.'"

Many used personal experiences to call for the government to do something.

"My other grandfather lost his life to cancer. It was an awful death," said Stacey Gregory, "Now he smoked. But my sweet little grandmother that sat right beside him died of second hand smoke. We didn't know better back then, but we know better now. So we should do better."

"I was a co-author, contributor of the 2006 Surgeon General's Report. I just brought it along to show everybody just how large that volume of evidence is," said Dr. David Coultas, "The first report came out 1986. This is not a new problem. The evidence has just gotten stronger and more consistent. I see it everyday in the clinic. These are preventable problems."

"I am a great believe in civil liberties. I fully support a persons right to smoke. I don't agree with it but I do support their right to do it," said Todd Sigman,"There is an old adage where your rights end where my begin. And I think that really sums up the issue with smoking. This adage speaks to basis of our laws which define the rights and freedom people in here are mentioning. You have the right to free speech, but you do not have the right to libel and slander, you have the right to drink alcohol, but you do not have the right to drive home, you have the right to own a gun but you don't have the right to shoot people. Laws do need to come in and serve the public interest. The government has a duty to protect our citizens and it must step in when people's personal choice is not only affect but hurt those around him.

"I believe government a responsibility to in effect save us from ourselves," said Dr. Charles Haas, "We limit drunk driving. We limit our ability to ride without seatbelts. I believe the ball is in your court now to do the right thing and to ban smoking in public places."

Either way you fall it's an issue many East Texans aren't taking lying down. If you would like to send the city council an email  you can go to, there you will find a link to send them an email.

Danielle Capper, Reporting