A group of Fort Worth residents gathered at Billy Bob’s Texas to support the launch of Smoke-Free Fort Worth, a campaign that aims to end smoking in public places.
Fort Worth still allows smoking in bars and bingo parlors. It is the only city of the five largest in Texas to do so.
The event featured three speakers who talked about why they support a smoke-free environment.
“I hope that people think about the actual cost to other peoples’ lives with secondhand smoke,” said Steve Steward, Boiled Owl Tavern bartender.
Laws prohibiting smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars have been passed in 25 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Secondhand smoke has more than 7,000 chemicals that can be inhaled, according to the National Cancer Institute. It estimates that at least 250 of these chemicals are damaging and about 69 can cause cancer.
As a result of exposure to secondhand smoke, 3,000 adult nonsmokers die from lung cancer each year.
“Secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart disease and lung cancer. Making all workplaces smoke-free can improve public health for everyone who lives, works and plays in Fort Worth,” according to Smoke-Free Fort Worth’s website.
A poll of Fort Worth residents done by Baselice and Associates, found that 91 percent agree everyone has the right to breathe smoke-free air in public places and at work.
“It’s very important to me that they [Fort Worth residents] have workplace safety, especially when it comes to the smoking bans in Fort Worth,” said Fort Worth resident Alyssa Petty. “I want to help educate other people about the harmful effects of tobacco, so it just made sense for me to come out and support.”
Many local businesses and companies are responding to citizens’ disapproval of smoking in public places.
“Fort Worth has some laws on the books that say you can’t smoke in certain areas and then some companies and some businesses like Billy Bob’s have gone smoke-free because they realize the health effects,” said Allen Henderson, provost and senior vice president at Texas Wesleyan University.
Any level of exposure to secondhand smoke can be dangerous, according to the American Lung Association.
“Secondhand smoke we know can have a powerful effect,” Henderson said. “If you live in a home or if you were in a dorm room with somebody who smoked all the time, it might have as much a negative effect on you as it does them.”
Despite the risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke, TCU allows smoking outdoors at least 20 feet away from the entrance or exit to a university building.
In 2014, TCU’s Student Government Association proposed a resolution calling for a ban all smoking on campus. The resolution failed to pass and was never implemented.
TCU sophomore Megan Schultz said she does not think smoking should be allowed on campus.
“It [smoking] isn’t just a health hazard for the individual, but secondhand smoke is also a serious issue,” said Schultz.