By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
The image of a smoked-filled bar might sound like a thing of the past, but in Fort Worth, Texas, there’s still a fight to clear the air in workplaces and public places.
Texas has no statewide indoor smoking law for bars, restaurants, private workplaces or government worksites. Most major Texas cities — including Houston, Austin and Dallas — have some level of regulation, and every major city in the state has prohibited smoking in workplaces. Except Fort Worth.
Smoke-Free Fort Worth, a coalition of local organizations that include the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, is leading the campaign and says the health of residents shouldn’t have to be compromised in the workplace. Smoke-Free Fort Worth recently released a poll that found 91 percent of Fort Worth residents agree everyone deserves to work in a smoke-free environment.
Exposure to secondhand smoke can be measured by testing saliva, urine or blood for cotinine, a product created when the body breaks down nicotine. Cotinine levels in nonsmokers have steadily decreased in recent decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The decrease is likely partially due to the growing number of states and cities with laws that prohibit indoor smoking, the CDC reports.
Mark Koch, M.D., is a family doctor and co-chair of Smoke-Free Fort Worth. “As a physician I have seen the damage tobacco and secondhand smoke does to the human body,” Koch said in a press release.
In 2007, Fort Worth voted to prohibit smoking in restaurants, bowling alleys and offices. But smoking is still permitted in bars, hotels and outdoor dining areas.
Many bars at the time fought to allow smoking in their establishments. But now Billy Bob’s Texas – the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Honky-Tonk” and one of the city’s main opponents of the 2007 ordinance – is smoke-free itself, and the venue hosted the Smoke-Free Fort Worth launch party last month.
The group is pushing for a city council vote before the end of the year. No vote is currently scheduled.