Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
January 31, 2007
Contact: Jeremy Warren, 512-463-0113

Ellis Files Legislation to Institute Statewide Workplace Smoking Ban

Coalition releases statewide poll demonstrating wide support for smoke-free initiative

AUSTIN -- Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Smoke-Free Texas, a diverse health care coalition, today announced the filing of SB 368, legislation banning smoking in public places. The group also announced the results of a statewide poll showing an overwhelming majority of Texans support a statewide ban of smoking in public places.

Smoke-Free Texas members include the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Texas PTA. The coalition is advocating that Texas join 16 other states that have passed comprehensive, smoke-free laws by passing SB 368.

A statewide poll commissioned by the coalition found that 71 percent of Texans would favor a statewide law eliminating smoking in all indoor workplaces and public facilities including public buildings, offices, restaurants and bars, according to Mike Baselice, president of Baselice and Associates, which conducted the poll. The statewide poll mirrors Texans' choice at the ballot box 14 cities have passed comprehensive smoking bans and 47 others have passed more limited anti-smoking measures.

"Texans have spoken loud and clear: they want to ban smoking in public places and the best and most efficient way to do so is to pass this legislation," said Senator Ellis. "It is time for Texas take a giant leap forward for Texans' health and ban smoking in public places."

Senate Bill 368 will eliminate smoking in indoor public places, including municipal worksites and private worksites including restaurants, restaurant bars and stand-alone bars.

Secondhand smoke is a known cause of lung cancer, heart disease, low birth weight, chronic lung ailments (such as bronchitis and asthma) and other health problems, and it leads to the death of 53,000 Americans each year studies have found. Of Texans polled by Smoke-Free Texas, 92 percent said they realized that secondhand smoke is a health hazard.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 37 percent of adult nonsmokers inhale secondhand smoke at home or work. Levels of secondhand smoke in bars are 3.9 to 6.1 times higher than in office worksites and up to 4.5 times higher than in homes with at least one smoker, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Ellis predicted widespread support of the measure, and called on critics to join the fight by supporting this common-sense reform.

"It is interesting how some people will applaud efforts to put more funding in cancer research yet oppose a simple common sense legislative effort to keep more people from getting cancer," said Ellis. "This common-sense reform will have an enormous impact combating a disease that is responsible for a fourth of all Texas deaths. I call on all sides to join in the debate and work together to help reduce smoking in Texas."

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