Tobacco use is the single greatest preventable cause of premature death and disease in Texas. Each year, more than 32,000 Texans under age 18 become new, daily smokers. Of all Texas youth alive now, nearly 503,000 ultimately will die from tobacco-related diseases.
Tobacco also exacts a high price from business and taxpayers. In Texas, more than $12.2 billion can be attributed to the costs associated with smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cost per smoker is about $3,561, which includes direct medical and indirect costs.
To combat this problem, legislation was filed in 2007 that would have eliminated smoking in all Texas workplaces and public places. Even though the bill had strong and broad support, it did not pass. However, given that level of support, a statewide smoking ban is likely to reemerge in 2009.
Making Texas smoke-free is one of the easiest, simplest, and fastest public health interventions Texas could undertake. Twenty-eight states have adopted smoking bans in restaurants; 22 of these states also prohibit smoking in workplaces.
Medicine’s 2009 Agenda
- Support a statewide ban on smoking in public places.
- Support tax incentives for employers to reward nonsmokers and encourage smokers to participate in tobacco cessation programs.
- Just like asbestos in schools, lead in paint and gasoline, and salmonella in food — secondhand smoke is purely a public health issue.
- The scientific evidence is now indisputable: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can sicken and kill children and nonsmoking adults.
- If all U.S. workplaces implemented smoke-free policies, the reduction in heart attacks due to secondhand smoke would save the country $49 million in direct medical savings within the first year.
- Tobacco use is a major risk factor for multiple cancers, heart disease, stroke, and lung disease.