Midland Group Wants Tougher Smoking Ordinance

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Keeping kids from lighting up, that's the goal of one Midland group who said they're playing with an idea to keep cigarettes away from minors.

It could have a big effect on smokers, but don't get upset just yet. They said they want to leave it up to voters in the end.

The Midland Coalition wants stricter city ordinances when it comes to smoking.

Midland County is one of the highest in the state per capita for smoking and they want to see that statistic go down, especially for the younger crowd.

"I just think we need some overall changes," Dale Seago with the Midland Coalition, said. "I don't think we're covering enough bases."

Whether you smoke a pack a day or you don't smoke at all, the mission of the Coalition could affect your daily life.

The group wants to prevent the younger crowd from picking up an addictive habit and to protect those who don't smoke.

"If that means changing the strategic or environmental factors by tougher ordinances, more enforcement, you know, different ways to do with that, then that's what we're going to do," Seago said.

He said they'd like to see ordinances similar to ones passed in other parts of the state.

Those include things like no smoking at public bus stops and even other public places like bars.

Each year, more than 3,600 people in Texas die from health complications due to second-hand smoke.

"That's a lot of people that die that don't smoke," Seago said. "When you throw those in that smoke, its pretty serious."

Right now, it's just talk. There aren't any proposals in the works to push for these stricter ordinances.

But Seago said when there is, he wants to follow San Angelo's lead and have the voters decide.

"They proposed it and put it up to the voters and it passed with 60 percent, so that would give everybody a say in it," he said. "I think that's the correct way to do it."

And whether that decision is a yes or a no, Seago said they have the public's and the youth's best interest at heart.

"We want people to be healthy, we want people to be able to breathe clean air," he said. "We want to especially prevent adolescents from getting involved with it so they're not trying to quit later on."

Seago said they already want to hear from the public and adolescents about smoking and other issues. They're sending out surveys to get more feedback to hear what they have to say.