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News Summary

Testimony on Positive Impact of Smoke-Free Workplace Legislation Given in Two Days of Committee Hearings

Publication Date: 3/3/2011
  • Author:Smoke-Free Texas
  • Publication:PR Newswire
Witnesses from around the state highlight bill benefits

Senate Bill 355 and House Bill 670 propose a statewide smoke-free workplace law

This week, smoke-free workplace bills were heard in the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and the Texas House Committee on Public Health. Both committees left the bills pending, which is common in the legislative process.

Numerous individuals including business owners, musicians, organization representatives and others provided testimony in favor of the bills. Many of these individuals have experienced the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke exposure first hand.

"From my perspective as a researcher in the field of public health, I understand the need for a statewide smoke-free workplace law not only for the sake of customers and employees, but for the Texas economy," said Phil Huang, MD, MPH, in both hearings. "This statewide law could truly make a positive health and economic impact on our state."

Senate Bill 355 and House Bill 670, authored by Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton) respectively, are a result of bipartisan consensus reached after several years of collaboration among many lawmakers and stakeholders.

"I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, nor does anyone in my household, but I got lung cancer because of secondhand smoke exposure in the jobs I worked during and after college," said Trena Stafford, Texas Parent Teacher Association volunteer, in both hearings. "Secondhand smoke has truly hurt me and my family."

Secondhand smoke kills 46,000 Americans due to heart disease and 3,400 Americans due to lung cancer every year. In fact, it is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and is a known cause of lung cancer, heart disease, premature birth and low birth weight and other health problems. Texas lawmakers now have the opportunity to decrease the impact of these health problems for all Texans.

Momentum for this important legislation continues to grow as the Legislative Session progresses. A 2011 statewide poll indicates 70 percent of Texas voters surveyed support a statewide smoke-free workplace law and a new secondhand smoke economic study shows $404 million in savings to the Texas economy over the biennium. Nearly two-thirds of Republican primary voters surveyed support a statewide smoke-free workplace law.

"Having been a professional musician for the past 40 years, the most difficult aspect of my job has always been the noxious smoke so ubiquitous in nightclubs and bars," wrote Natalie Zoe, professional musician. "I look so forward to the day I can book gigs anywhere and everywhere in Texas with impunity knowing I can manage to go out and make a living doing what I do without endangering my delicate and precious lungs. What a miserable trade off it has been trading my ability to breathe for my ability to make a living."...