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Fort Worth Goes Smoke-Free

Members of the Smoke-free Fort Worth Coalition were on the edge of their seats. It was the night of December 12, and the Smoke-Free Fort Worth hearing had finally arrived. For an hour and a half, coalition members had heard one testimonial after another, all in favor of a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance (one that covers all indoor workplaces), but other smoke-free campaigns in Fort Worth had faced significant setbacks, and victory was far from guaranteed. In 2007, the city voted to prohibit smoking in restaurants and bowling alleys, but exempted bars, hotels, and outdoor dining areas, leaving thousands of workers and patrons exposed to secondhand smoke. 

But this was a different campaign at a very different time. The last few years have seen a groundswell of support for smoke-free policy, with communities of all sizes across Texas implementing comprehensive smoke-free ordinances. The SouthWest Affiliate and its coalition partners have been at the forefront of this movement.  Meanwhile, vocal and influential opponents of previous Smoke-Free Fort Worth campaigns had a change of heart. After vehemently opposing the 2007 ordinance, Billy Bob’s Texas, a popular Fort Worth music venue, prohibited smoking in all indoor areas in 2016, after years of customer surveys complaining about indoor smoke. Other popular bars in the city followed suit.   

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At a Fort Worth City Council Work Session in October 2017, Mayor Betsy Price said that she was excited about the Smoke-Free Forth Worth ordinance coming up on the council’s agenda. “This is the right time for Fort Worth to consider the ordinance,” she said. “Things have changed dramatically in the last few years. Heck, even Billy Bob’s is supportive.”

And it was indeed the right time for a comprehensive ordinance. On December 12, the City Council voted 8-1 in favor of the amendment, bringing cleaner air to the city’s 854,000 residents by expanding the city’s no-smoking ordinance to include bars, restaurants, and bingo halls.

 This victory is another giant step forward for the Texas smoke-free movement. The SouthWest Affiliate is incredibly proud to have played a key role in bringing about this change in policy, which would not have been possible without the dedication of our coalition partners, including the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Tobacco-Free Kids, Americans for Non-Smokers Rights and MD Anderson. 50 local partners supported the campaign, and 3,500 grassroots supporters sent nearly 700 emails to City Council members, sending a resounding message that Fort Worth was ready to provide cleaner air to all its residents, no matter where they live or work.

With 10 local smoke free-wins in the past six months, the SouthWest Affiliate has now helped nearly 2.9M Texans across 49 cities breathe easier since 2014. 

If you are interested in supporting our advocacy work, please contact Senior Director of Grassroots Initiatives and Volunteer Engagement Vanessa Fuentes at
vanessa.fuentes@heart.org and consider joining You're the Cure.

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