Dallas City Council Delivers Victory for Smoke-Free Air; Texas Legislature Should Follow Lead and Pass Strong Statewide Law

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Dec. 10 2008

Washington, DC — The Dallas City Council today delivered a major victory for the public's right to breathe clean air by voting to strengthen the city's smoke-free workplace law to include bars and pool halls. Today's vote recognizes that no one should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night out. We urge the Texas Legislature to follow the lead of Dallas and a growing number of Texas cities and pass a strong, statewide smoke-free law that includes ALL workplaces and protects ALL workers and the public from the proven health risks of secondhand smoke.

Dallas joins 21 other Texas cities and towns — including Houston, Austin, El Paso and Abilene — in passing strong smoke-free workplace laws. We applaud Mayor Tom Leppert, Mayor Pro Tem Elba Garcia, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwayne Carraway, and Council members Carolyn Davis, Angela Hunt, Ron Natinsky, Jerry Allen, Pauline Madrano, Linda Koop and David Neumann for voting for the bill today. This action adds to the growing momentum across the country and around the world to protect all workers and the public from secondhand smoke.

Twenty-four states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico — as well as hundreds of cities and towns — have passed smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

The need for protection from secondhand smoke in all workplaces and public places has never been clearer. In issuing a groundbreaking report on secondhand smoke in June 2006, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona stated, "The debate is over. The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard that causes premature death and disease in children and nonsmoking adults."

Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 69 carcinogens. The Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year, there is no safe level of exposure, and only smoke-free laws provide effective protection from secondhand smoke.

The evidence is also clear that smoke-free laws protect health without harming business. As the Surgeon General concluded, "Evidence from peer-reviewed studies shows that smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse impact on the hospitality industry."

It's time for Texas to join the growing number of states and communities that have taken action to protect everyone's right to breathe clean air.

 

Media Contacts