WICHITA FALLS, TEXAS - The Smoke-Free Texas Coalition, comprised of members from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, LIVESTRONG and Texas Medical Center, released the following statement regarding the city of Wichita Falls' passage of a smoke-free ordinance.
The Wichita Falls City Council voted to make all restaurants and bars and most other workplaces smoke-free. This ordinance is a great step forward for health that will better protect workers and the public from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. However, provisions related to ventilation systems weaken the law and the two-year implementation of this proposal will continue to unnecessarily expose workers and residents to the dangers of secondhand smoke.
The Smoke-Free Texas Coalition applauds the persistence of the many individuals and organizations that have fought the long battle to make Wichita Falls smoke-free. Nevertheless, it is disappointing that the ordinance will have a lengthy implementation period. All workers and patrons deserve the same protection from secondhand smoke and should be immediately protected.
The Wichita Falls ordinance adds to the growing momentum across Texas and around the nation to protect everyone's right to breathe smoke-free air. Wichita Falls joins 36 other Texas cities in enacting smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars.
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including at least 70 carcinogens. The Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome.
The scientific evidence is clear – there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoke-free laws are the most economic and effective protection from secondhand smoke exposure – separate areas, air cleaning or ventilation systems do not eliminate exposure.
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 every state and community to protect everyone's right to breathe clean indoor air.