Travis County approves comprehensive smoking ban

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by JADE MINGUS / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @JadeM_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 29 at 7:01 PM

AUSTIN -- Travis County commissioners approved a comprehensive smoking ban for all county property Tuesday afternoon.

It bans the use of all tobacco related products on county property both indoors and outdoors. That includes parks and the Travis County Expo Center, but commissioners could later pass exemptions for big events including the Republic of Texas Biker Rally and the Heart of Texas Fair and Rodeo.

Tobacco kills approximately 570 people in Travis County every year according to Dr. Philip Huang, the medical director of Austin-Travis County.

"Tobacco kills more than AIDS, crack, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, car accidents, fire, murder and suicide combined, and it's entirely preventable," said Dr. Huang.

The smoking ban encompasses county-owned property only, not private property, and it's drawing criticism.

"They might as well ban the cigarettes then in my opinion," said smoker John Early.

The county will post warning signs, but does not plan to enforce the ban in any other way. It takes effect April 7.

The county estimates the only cost is $8,000 to post the signs on county property. The City of Austin is paying $5,000 of that.

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