SOURCE: Up In Smoke

July 08, 2008 13:43 ET

Expansion of Dallas Smoking Ban Seen as Unconstitutional by Local Tobacconist

DALLAS, TX--(Marketwire - July 8, 2008) - "Mounds of money, misinformation and personal prejudices are being poured into a misleading public relations campaign that will close down family businesses like mine and further deprive Dallas citizens of our constitutional rights," said Jay Fox, owner of a local chain of tobacco stores.

Fox was referring to the efforts of well-funded anti-smoking organizations attempting to get the Dallas city council to expand the 2003 smoking ban soon after it returns next month.

In business since 1978, Fox owns two tobacco shops in the city of Dallas and four more in the surrounding area with a total of 30 employees. He says he is prepared to fight any new proposal that bans smoking in areas currently exempt from the five-year old Dallas ban.

"The Dallas city council does not have the right to tell me or any other private business owner to ban smoking on our respective properties," Fox maintains. "If they are going to restrict my customers from smoking cigars in my store, that's restraint of trade in addition to being unconstitutional. Texas courts don't take kindly to such shenanigans."

The career tobacconist cited efforts by his opponents to pave the way for council to expand the ban.

"Our opponents hired a couple of high-priced PR firms to help them pull the wool over the eyes of the public with a phony press conference and a slanted survey of 600 people. Council members should come to my stores where they can talk to thousands of people who are against further encroachment on their rights. And they don't need to hire some high-powered PR agencies to take that survey."

Fox says that, in addition to federal taxes, his business paid more than $500,000 in state and local taxes last year, revenues that would be in jeopardy if his customers couldn't enjoy premium cigars in his stores or at other adult venues currently exempted from the ban.

"And I defy anyone to produce definitive evidence to substantiate the wild claims they are making about incidental second-hand smoke, especially from an occasional premium cigar or pipe. If there were such issues, OSHA would be involved, but they are not.

"That should be the end of that story," said Fox, "but I have only just begun to fight."

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