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Denton May Clear The Air On Smoking Ban Expansion

(cc) flickr

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Putting cigs out in a two-college town, a lockdown at a local  elementary school, and more

Denton City Council member Kevin Roden calls it an issue of Braveheart proportions in local politics in his preview of today's council meeting: A citizen advisory committee wants to ban smoking in all businesses, city buildings, schools, restaurants, billiard and bowling facilities. And most bars in this two-college mecca of cheap drink specials. In their last meeting of the year, council members will decide how far to expand the city’s smoking ordinance.

According to a pro-ban op-ed by council member Dalton Gregory, bingo halls would have three years to build walls to separate smokers from nonsmokers. Attorney Sara Bagheri, one of the founders of Denton’s first hookah joint (known by her surname), argues the ban would discourage personal freedom.

Earlier this week, in our series Vital Signs, our own Sam Baker looked at one of the possible health results of smoking: sudden cardiac arrest. And a recent analysis by Circulation showed how dramatically hospitalizations for major health problems have declined in places where smoking bans have been implemented in the U.S.: Hospitalizations have fallen an average of 15 percent.

The rest of tH5:

  • Schools across the country are still nervous in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut. Earlier this morning, police put Birdville Elementary School on lockdown after folks there thought they heard gunshots. Turns out the sounds outside the Haltom City school were a parent's truck backfiring.  [WFAA] KERA's BJ Austin reports that three other local school districts had lockdown scares today: Ferris, Lake Worth and Dallas.
  • More nursing homes in Texas have major violations documented than any other state, according to an ongoing investigation by ProPublica. The Lone Star state has more nursing homes than any other state besides California, so the data is somewhat skewed. But the study reveals systemic concerns that are troubling for patients and advocates. [ProPublica, HT Unfair Park]
  • Japanese artist SachikoKodama created a pine tree that rises from a pool of oil. NPR’s Robert Krulwich can only hope she was thinking of Texas and Christmas; it’s a beautiful process in any case. [NPR]

  • Poet and commentator RawlinsGilliland captures the spirit of Christmas with a story about forming a friendship with a homeless man. It has all the hallmarks of a warm tale for winter: a puppy, a blizzard, and a “starless night bridge.” [KERA]