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Stories from the Street: McAllen Healthy Hearts 5k & Smoke-Free RGV




The following is a post by Local Policy Manager, Jerry Saavedra on his experience at the McAllen Healthy Hearts 5k

It was a great weekend in McAllen! This past Valentine’s Day weekend, the McAllen Heart Hospital and The Heart Clinic held their second-annual Healthy Hearts 5K. The turnout was amazing with over 500 people from across the RGV lacing up their running shoes to show their support!

As part of this event, our Smoke-Free RGV team had a table where we were able to engage with participants, talk with them about the devastating impact of secondhand smoke, and ask them if they would sign our petition cards & take a picture with our “100% smoke-free community” sign (check out our photo album from the event) to express their support for their community passing a 100% smoke-free ordinance. 




The support from the community was overwhelming! One woman told me that she doesn’t like to go out to bars with her friends and co-workers because the secondhand smoke always upsets her breathing and sinuses.  She said she would love to be able to go out and not smell like smoke and feel bad when she got home.  We agree.

My favorite conversation was with a man who, when I told him what we were doing at the event, told me he was a smoker.  He then turned to his wife and said with a chuckle, “They want me to sign a petition to make our city smoke-free.” She nodded her head and rolled her eyes a little. 

But then a surprising thing happened.  He turned to me and said, “You know what.  I’ll sign your petition.”  He went on to say that although he was a smoker, other people who are having a meal or having a few drinks should not have to breathe in his secondhand smoke.  “I think it’s reasonable for us smokers to just go outside to smoke.  I don’t see the problem with that.”

This gentleman and the hundreds of other people who showed their support by signing petition cards and taking pictures, made my day and reaffirmed to me that communities across the Rio Grande Valley and the entire State of Texas want to live and work in comprehensive 100% smoke-free cities.  As one woman I met put it, “It really is just common sense.” 

If you support your community going smoke-free, click here to sign the petition!  Together we will make the Rio Grande Valley a healthier place to live, work, and raise a family.


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