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News Summary

It's time for Texas to outlaw smoking in public places

Publication Date: 4/15/2011
  • Author:Harold J. Farber
  • Publication:Houston Chronicle

The Texas Legislature is considering legislation to prohibit smoking in most public places, including workplaces, bars and restaurants (Senate Bill 355 and House Bill 670). The tobacco industry selfishly asserts that this is an issue of smokers' rights. It is really about protecting the rights of nonsmokers and protecting our children.

Other people's smoking hurts you. The science is clear. Involuntary tobacco smoke exposure is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard...

Some legislators claim that local governments should decide on whether or not to implement protections from involuntary tobacco smoke exposure. Yet, we may work, shop or play in a different city than the one in which we live. Texans should have the freedom to visit any Texas business that serves the public without the risk of involuntary tobacco-smoke exposure. Only 34 Texas cities have smoke-free workplace ordinances. For example, although Houston has a smoke-free bar, restaurant and workplace ordinance, Galveston and most other surrounding cities do not.

The tobacco industry argues that tobacco is a legal product and that it is being treated as though it is illegal. Alcohol is also a legal product, and we regulate its use. We need to take action on tobacco as well. The harm of involuntary tobacco smoke exposure is well known and well documented. The science is clear. The benefits of smoke-free policies have been clearly demonstrated. It is time for Texas to take action.