Fort Worth considers banning smoking inside bars

Fort Worth city leaders plan to, once again, discuss making a change to its smoking laws on Tuesday. The issue is banning smoking inside bars, and bar owners are split.

As the law stands now in Fort Worth, smoking is banned in restaurants and bowling alleys. But it is still allowed in some places like bingo halls, tobacco shops and bars where most of the sales come from alcohol. But advocates are pushing to expand the ban to include most public indoor places to provide a healthy workplace for employees who have to be there.

Sarah Ten Brink has owned her Sarah's Place Bar for more than a dozen years and has allowed smoking there ever since opening day. But that could soon change.

“I think it's going to hurt us in the beginning,” she said. “But I have many friends that don't want to come here because of the smoking. We have a lot of patrons that come in because it is smoking.”

Other bar owners, like Robbie Turman, are on board with a smoking ban because he believes it's good for business.

“I think it'll affect it in a positive way,” he said. “I had a place in Dallas when Dallas went non-smoking. And across the board, the liquor sales went up about 25 percent. So I think it's going to be a positive thing.”

Turman owns a couple bars in town. He owns some that don’t allow smoking and others that do, like Oscar's Pub.

“There's a lot of people that do come here because it's smoking,” Turman said. “But I think there's a larger group that don't smoke, so I'd rather go for the larger base.”

Organizations like Smoke-Free Fort Worth say it's about the health and safety of employees.

“We're not saying people are not allowed to smoke — period,” said Dr. Sreenivas Guditmetla with the Tarrant County American Heart Association. “We're saying that they're allowed to smoke outside in places where workers won't be potentially adversely affected.”

It's unclear which businesses exactly would be included. For now, smokers at bars like ten Brink's are just waiting to see if they'll have to put out their cigarettes there for good.

“They'll go crazy, but they will comply,” ten Brink said. “We're not gonna have a choice but compliance.”

There's still some details to be worked out on where exactly smoking will be banned.

Organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society are working together to get the ban passed with city council. It will be discussed during a work session Tuesday afternoon.

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