The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services in Texas has approved a statewide smoking ban proposal by a 5-3 vote, and has sent the bill to the full State Senate for debate, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
The proposed ban would forbid smoking at indoor workplaces in Texas, including bars and restaurants.
This Senate Committee version of the bill is stricter than the version passed by a House panel, which would exempt certain bars and would not apply to counties with fewer than 115,000 residents.
It’s “a much stronger bill” than what the House panel passed, said the bill’s Senate author, Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.
Smoke-Free Texas, a coalition of groups supporting the ban, commended the Senate committee for approving the bill.
“Smoke-Free Texas is confident there is significant legislative support to pass this bill in the coming weeks and prevent thousands of Texans from becoming ill or even dying from secondhand smoke exposure,” Jeff Knisley of the American Lung Association, a member of the coalition, told the Austin American-Statesman.
Twenty-five states have smoke-free laws that the coalition considers comprehensive.