By: Steve Love, CEO & President of the Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council
It’s that time of year when we begin planning our New Year’s resolutions. There is one that North Texas could adopt that would save lives and improve the health of everyone, especially our children. It would advance our population health and reduce cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, SIDS and other respiratory disorders.
Before you imagine treadmills, jogging and other forms of exercise coupled with proper diet (all good activities) it does not require any personal physical commitment. It does not include any debate regarding the Affordable Care Act, sequestration or balancing the budget. This year, let’s resolve to make all of North Texas smoke free!
There are many North Texas cities and communities that adopted this resolution over the past ten years. In fact, we thank the leadership of Denton and DeSoto for joining this healthy initiative in 2015. In addition, the City of Red Oak recently voted 5-0 to adopt a comprehensive Smoke-Free ordinance that covers all indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants. With the adoption of this ordinance, Red Oak becomes the 3rd city in Ennis County to have a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, joining Waxahachie & Ennis as the 100% smoke free cities in this county.
However, we have many North Texas municipalities that need to adopt this New Year’s Resolution in 2016, and we challenge them to help improve the health of their communities. Without this ordinance, employees and patrons of establishments such as sports bars and restaurants are exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and many are toxic and cause cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions. Approximately 43,000 Americans die from exposure to secondhand smoke, annually. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) states that the only means of effectively eliminating health risks associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking activity. In other words, ventilation technology does not protect people from secondhand smoke as there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. We thank the leadership of our North Texas cities for their public service and conscientious efforts in improving their communities. If your city or municipality has not adopted a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, please do so in 2016. It is the right thing to do for the health of your citizens.
Happy Holidays and let’s make all of North Texas smoke-free in 2016!