Yesterday the Smoke-Free Texas Coalition (of which the American Heart Association is a part of) released the following statement regarding smoke-free legislation.
Texas Senate Must Act Now to Ensure Passage of Smoke-Free Law in 2011
Coalition urges immediate action by Health and Human Services Committee on Senate Bill 28
AUSTIN – The Smoke-Free Texas Coalition and numerous other supporters of smoke-free workplace legislation are actively urging members of the Senate Health and Human Service Committee to take immediate action on SB 28, legislation proposing a statewide law to eliminate smoking in indoor areas of bars and restaurants across the state. The bill, authored by Senator Rodney Ellis, was referred on Monday, June 13 to the Committee.
HB 46 – the companion bill filed by Representative Myra Crownover – passed out of the House Appropriations Committee 19-1 on Saturday, June 4. The Health and Human Services Committee must take a vote on SB 28 before there is any further movement on HB 46.
“The support and rapid action by the Texas Senate is critical to the successful passage of a statewide smoke-free law in 2011,” said Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, Smoke-Free Texas supporter and founder and chairman of the Cooper Clinic. “Before HB 46 can move any further, the Senate must step up and do their part by considering this legislation that is vital to the health of Texas employees and customers.”
A smoke-free workplace law will save thousands of lives and millions of dollars for Texans, including $31 million in taxpayer dollars for the 2012-2013 biennium by eliminating the Medicaid costs that result from exposure to secondhand smoke in bars and restaurants.
In addition, there is widespread support for this legislation from numerous organizations, business groups, musicians, faith leaders and everyday Texans from across the political spectrum. A January 2011 survey of Texas voters conducted by Baselice and Associates found that 70 percent of those surveyed support a smoke-free workplace law that prohibits smoking in all indoor workplaces and public facilities. The poll also revealed that 63 percent of those surveyed indicated they would be more likely to vote for a state legislator who supported a comprehensive smoke-free workplace law.
“There is clearly strong support from Texans for a smoke-free workplace law,” said Dr. Cooper. “The Senate owes these Texans a vote on this issue and must make this a priority in the special session.”
Thousands of Texans are directly or indirectly affected by the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace. Without a statewide smoke-free workplace law, millions of Texans will never be protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.
“Texas is closer than ever to passing this legislation thanks to the tireless work and dedication of many of our state’s leaders and others who have actively voiced their support for this legislation over the past several months,” said Dr. Cooper. “Now is the time for the Senate to take action to ensure this life-saving legislation is passed in Texas.”
Smoke-Free Texas is a broad coalition of organizations who believe all Texas employees have the right to breathe clean indoor air. Because science tells us that secondhand smoke kills, we support a statewide law to protect Texans from the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace. Our members include the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, LIVESTRONG and the Texas Parent Teacher Association. Visit our website for more information at www.smokefreetexas.org. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter at www.Facebook.com/SmokeFreeTexas and www.Twitter.com/SmokeFreeTexas.