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Smoking in Houston, John Hofmeister, and Women in Space: Houston Matters for Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Earlier this month, the City of Houston expanded its no smoking policy to all public pedestrian plazas. It’s just the latest in many ongoing policies nationwide to discourage smoking in general, and specifically reduce second-hand smoke in public. Some smokers feel unreasonably persecuted. Some non-smokers feel current policies don’t go far enough. On this edition […]

Earlier this month, the City of Houston expanded its no smoking policy to all public pedestrian plazas. It’s just the latest in many ongoing policies nationwide to discourage smoking in general, and specifically reduce second-hand smoke in public. Some smokers feel unreasonably persecuted. Some non-smokers feel current policies don’t go far enough.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we consider what it’s like to be a smoker in Houston in 2014. Is it harder and harder to find places where you can smoke in public? Are the restrictions you come across reasonable or do they go too far? And how far do non-smokers’ rights to breathe clean air extend?

We welcome your thoughts and also consider how the rise of e-cigarettes might impact perceptions about smokers and smoking in Greater Houston.

Then, a conversation with John Hofmeister. The former Shell Oil president has a lot of ideas about America’s energy future, on what it should be based, and how it should be regulated. (In the past, he’s called for an independent energy regulator similar to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve).

Hofmeister is the founder and CEO of the advocacy group Citizens for Affordable Energy, which presses for American independence from foreign oil. While he’s no longer at Shell, Hofmeister is working with companies which provide products and services to the oil industry, including Hunting PLC, Lufkin Industries, and CAMAC Energy.

That may seem, on the surface, to suggest his advocacy is in opposition to his business interests, but it’s not. Hofmeister wants U.S. consumers to break their addiction to foreign oil, and turn instead to domestic energy. That position is delineated in a documentary called Pump, produced in conjunction with the Fuel Freedom Foundation, which advocates for expansion of ethanol, methanol and natural gas alongside electric technology. The film characterizes use of fuel-based additives and natural gas as alternatives to break America’s oil dependenceBut are they really alternatives, or just oil in other forms?

We pose that question to Hofmeister, hear his views on our energy future, and welcome your questions.

Plus: The documentary Makers: Women in Space premieres on Houston Public Media TV 8 tonight at 8. Houston Matters’ Michael Hagerty talks with former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar about the history of women in space, the significance of Sally Ride breaking through and the need to encourage more girls and women to pursue careers in engineering.

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