|Debra Patt, MD, MPH|
Today — the 37th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout Day — TPHC focused on the physical and fiscal effects of tobacco use in Texas. Dr. Patt says tobacco use is the single greatest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the state, killing more than 24,000 Texans, both smokers and nonsmokers (through second-hand smoke).
When cities, counties, and states go smoke-free, citizens live longer, healthier lives. When Olmsted County, Minn., passed a public smoking ban in 2002, heart attack rates plummeted 33 percent. Dr. Patt says Texas could see a similar trend if it passes a statewide smoke-free workplace law. “Adopting a comprehensive smoking ban in Texas would reduce the number of smokers by almost 33,000 and save Texas at least $250 million each biennium,” she said.
|The Honorable Mike May|
“We regulate restaurants beyond belief. You can’t have a speck of anything on a little piece of lettuce but you can fill your employees’ lungs full of cigarette smoke? That’s essentially what is happening in places that have not passed a ban.” The reasons for protecting employees and nonsmoking consumers from cigarette smoke outweighed any argument against a ban, Mr. May told the forum.
As Texas legislators head back to the Capitol for the state’s 83rd legislative session, Texas physicians urge legislators to invest in tobacco prevention and cessation. “Tobacco use is costly for individuals, costly for the health care system, and costly for Texas’ economy,” said Dr. Patt.