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

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

Aug. 19 2010

Washington, D.C. — The San Antonio City Council today delivered a historic victory for health and the public's right to breathe clean air by passing an ordinance to make all workplaces, including all restaurants and bars, smoke-free. We urge the Legislature and Governor to follow the lead of San Antonio and a growing number of Texas cities and pass a strong, statewide law that includes all workplaces and protects all Texans from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. As San Antonio's leaders recognized, no one should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night out.

We applaud Mayor Julian Castro and the members of the City Council who supported the ordinance. San Antonio joins Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso and other Texas cities that have enacted strong smoke-free laws. Nationwide, 28 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, along with more than 550 cities, have laws requiring restaurants and bars to be smoke-free. It's time for Texas to join this growing movement to protect everyone's right to breathe clean air.

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. A report released earlier this year by the Institute of Medicine concluded that secondhand smoke causes heart attacks while smoke-free laws prevent them.

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."

 

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