Paris considers smoking ban

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PARIS, TX -- Smokers in Paris could soon be banned from lighting up at local bars and restaurants.

At both city council meetings this month, many Paris residents have spoken up in favor of the city implementing a city-wide ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places.

"It's just so darn right embarrassing when people come to town and we go to a restaurant and they say you still smoke here," said Paris resident Steve Extruum. "I say yeah we're just not that bright. I'm sorry, but we aren't that bright. Everybody else has banned smoking, but we haven't."

"This is about protecting the environment for everyone else that chooses not to be a smoker," said Paris resident Dr. Celeste Wilcox.

As a cardiologist, Mayor A.J. Hashmi says he doesn't promote smoking, but he also doesn't want to impose on citizens' rights.

"It is a health issue and I think it needs to be addressed and I think the council is taking care of that right now," said Dr. Hashmi.

"Banning smoking in public places is not an issue which is just in our community or the city of Paris, it's in multiple cities," Hashmi added. "It has been dealt with in multiple cities and it is a very controversial issue."

One Paris restaurant owner, who has allowed smoking in his business for 23 years, says the ban could cause him to lose one group of customers, but gain another.

"Individual coffee drinkers in the afternoons that come in they like that cigarette with it, so it might cut them out," said Brent McKee. "Then vice versa, those that don't smoke at all will come in."

Paris smoker, Regina Nichols, says businesses, not the city council, should have the right to decide whether or not to ban smoking.

"If you go to a store, if they let you smoke in it that's their profit," said Nichols. "We bring in profit whether we smoke a cigarette in there or not."

The council will have one more public hearing at the next city council meeting on February 10th before making a decision.

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