Though the discussion was always respectful, there were differing opinions on whether a smoking ban should be implemented and if so, to what degree. The main targets of the smoking ordinance are restaurants and private clubs. Forney technically has no bars, Fat Dawgs and Time Out are both considered private clubs, which means they are restaurants that serve alcohol. Chili's for instance, would also be considered a private club, as would Pizza Hut. Though allowing for filtration systems was discussed, it was viewed as a costly alternative to a complete smoking ban.
Council member Mary Penn felt that offering businesses an option for closed doors and filtration systems was the way to go. She is not a smoker, but she is worried about impeding the rights of businesses. Council member Andy Parker was also very vocal in his opposition to any type of smoking ban. He said, “I'm for the least amount of government intrusion. If restaurants want to cater to smokers, they should be allowed to do that.” He surprised the council and audience by declaring that he does not think secondhand smoke is dangerous. “I don't think there is scientific evidence that breathing secondhand smoke causes lung cancer”, said Parker. The Mayor addressed Parker, “We aren't saying you can't smoke at your house.” Parker quipped, “That's coming Mr. Mayor.”
The U.S. Surgeon General disagrees with Mr. Parker as to the danger of secondhand smoke. The most recent report by the Surgeon General says, “Low levels of smoke exposure, including exposures to secondhand tobacco smoke, lead to a rapid and sharp increase in dysfunction and inflammation of the lining of the blood vessels, which are implicated in heart attacks and stroke.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also did a study which shows that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. There are 443,000 deaths each year in the U.S. that are directly attributed to smoke related diseases.
Council member James Hatley stated that he understands that his personal feelings cannot impact his vote, still he mentioned family members who died from smoke related illnesses and said, “It's a real touchy issue with me.” He is for a complete ban, particularly in restaurants. He said that allowing smoking in a restaurant because there are still a few people who want to smoke, undermines the rights of the majority who are non-smokers. 19.3 percent of adult Americans are smokers, which means more than 80 percent of Americans do not smoke. Hatley and Mayor Rozell both feel that smoking is a public safety issue that needs to be addressed.
Most DFW area cities now have smoking ordinances of some kind, and City Manager Brian Brooks told the city council, “My recommendation is that if you are going to go for it [smoking ban], go for it.” For Mr. Brooks and Mayor Rozell, it makes no sense to allow filtration systems so that smoking can continue, and then later on the city ends up moving to a full smoking ban anyway. Mayor Rozell does not want smoking allowed in restaurants, private clubs, or on the patios where patrons will be eating and drinking. Council member Robbie Powers agrees, when talking about the cities that have already enacted smoking bans, Powers said, “I feel that the free market for business owners has not been affected negatively.”
Smoking in hotels and motels was discussed, and overall the view seems to be to allow the individual hotel to decide if they want to have smoking and non-smoking rooms. Any potential cigar and tobacco shops would also be exempt from a smoking ban. Currently at City of Forney parks, smoking is not allowed on the playing field or in the spectator area. The council would like that changed to only allow smoking in the parking lots at city owned parks.
Mayor Rozell asked the city's attorney to bring forth a written smoking ordinance for them to review at the June 15, 2012 city council meeting. The Forney City Council will vote on a smoking ordinance as soon as the ordinance has been written, reviewed, and agreed upon by the council and the city's attorney. The public is welcome to attend all Forney City Council meetings and there is a time slot for an open forum for citizen comments at the meeting.