New Group Pushing for a Smoke-Free Fort Worth

Step into a bar in Fort Worth right now, and you're likely to step out smelling like smoke. It's the last major city in Texas without a comprehensive smoking ban.

But one well-known business recently made the change on its own and that’s helping galvanize a new push to ban smoking city-wide.

There's a cold drink in your hand and decades’ worth of country music history echoing off the walls. You're in Billy Bob's Texas. But there's something in the air now and it's not smoke, it's change.

"It's a sign of the times, I guess," said Billy Bob’s Texas President Concho Minick.

Billy Bob's banned smoking a month ago, except for on a new outdoor patio.

Managers say it was a simple question of responding to customer demand.

"One of the biggest complaints about our service is that smoking was allowed inside," said Minick.

However, some customers are not on board.

"It's a honky tonk. You should be able to come in and have your whiskey and your smoke. Why not? This is America," said customer Diane Carlson.

They've heard a lot more comments like this one from customer Craig Mangos.

"It wouldn't be comfortable for us to spend more than 10, 15 minutes in a place where smoke was around because of the whole health issue of second-hand smoke is well-known."

That's exactly what made Dr. Mark Koch of John Peter Smith Hospital step up to lead the new group Smoke-Free Fort Worth.

"We know that 41,000 people are going to die this year as a result of second-hand smoke," said Koch.

Now a coalition of community and business leaders is pushing for a comprehensive ban on smoking everywhere in Fort Worth. Right now, you can still smoke in places like bingo parlors and bars with more than 70 percent of sales from alcohol.

"Fort Worth is the last major city in Texas to go smoke-free," said Koch.

He thinks that hurts the city's image and hopes bans like Billy Bob's will show you can cut out smoking without losing business.

While the honky tonk's not ready to go political, Minick said it's been a good thing.

"It's been overwhelmingly positive," Minick said.

The Smoke-Free group hopes city council will make a chance to its smoking ordinance by the end of the year.

No one from city hall returned NBC 5’s calls for comment on Monday.

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