Statewide Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places in Texas


There is currently no federal smoking ban enforced by the United States Congress. Since the end of 2012, 28 states have enacted a statewide prohibition of smoking in all enclosed public places including bars, restaurants and workplaces. As of December 2012, 10 states including Texas have not enacted any statewide smoking ban. There has been six attempts to pass a smoking ban in the Texas House of Representatives. In 2011, Texas officials voted on Texas House Bill 46 and its sister legislation, Senate Bill 28, regarding smoking in indoor public places. Representative Crownover in Texas passed a smoking ban bill in 2007 and in 2011 (House Bill 9 and Amendment to House BIll 1811, respectively), but the measure failed in the Texas Senate both times. In 2011, polls show that 70 percent of Texans support an indoor smoking ban including restaurants and bars. Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis filed Senate Bill 86 in November 2012, regarding smoking in indoor public places and Texas will hopefully be the 29th state in the United States with a statewide smoking ban.

US states status regarding Statewide smoking ban policy

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States, that causes over 393,000 deaths per year. 18.5% of Texans above 18 years are currently smoking cigarettes. Smokers and those who work or live with them are at a high-risk for smoking. The State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and prevention) shows that mortality attributable to smoking among youth above 35 years is 273.1 per 100,000 in Texas between 2000-2004. Tobacco use can cause diverse, adverse health effects affecting many organs including the lungs, heart and liver. Smoking contributes an estimated 90% and 80% of all lung cancer mortality in men and women respectively, and 90% of all cause mortality by COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). The risk for coronary heart disease is increased 2 to 3 times and stroke by 2 to 4 times in smokers as compared to non-smokers. Smoking can cause many kinds of cancers and nicotine in tobacco can cause physical and psychological dependency. Secondhand smoking (environmental tobacco smoke) also causes adverse health effects including increased risk for lung cancer and heart diseases.

In short, smoking is a major public health issue in Texas. The growing awareness of harmful effects of cigarettes and second-hand smoking  has recently led towards the initiative to ban smoking in public places such as restaurants, bars and workplaces.  Filed by State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), State bill-86 is the bipartisan legislation to enact a comprehensive statewide policy that would replace a patchwork of diverse smoking restrictions at the local level. If the bill passes, Texas would join the list of 28 states with a similar statewide ban. Through this comprehensive bill, Texas would enhance its public health system and also expect to reduce medical expenses spent on smoking related diseases. It seems obvious that this is an issue that the state cannot allow politics to continue to stall. In order for this bill to be passed, the support of major organizations and the public is needed.

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