Smoking and secondhand smoke cost lives and money. More than 24,000 Texas adults die each year of a smoking-related illness. That is more than the number of deaths from AIDS, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, car accidents, fire, and murder combined. Tobacco use is the single greatest preventable cause of premature death and disease in Texas.

Texas business and taxpayers pay a high price for tobacco addiction. Medical care and health-related productivity losses cost Texas $11 billion dollars annually, according to the Department of State Health Services. Put a different way, a recent study reports the average price for a pack of cigarettes in Texas is $5.52. But the real price to Texas patients and Texas’ economy is $21 per pack of cigarettes.

Making Texas smoke free is one of the easiest, simplest, and fastest public health interventions Texas can undertake. Thirty-three states have adopted smoking bans in restaurants; 28 states also prohibit smoking in workplaces. While other states take positive leads, Texas lags behind, ranking a dismal 46th in tobacco prevention spending.

In the past two legislative sessions, the Texas Legislature has introduced a bill to ban smoking in workplaces and public spaces statewide. Each time the bill garnered strong support but did not pass. During the 2011 session, TMA will support a statewide smoking ban again.

Medicine’s 2011 Agenda

  • Support a comprehensive statewide initiative to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in all indoor workplaces.
  • Support funding for evidence-based interventions to reduce tobacco use.
  • Provide full smoking cessation benefit coverage for state employees.
  • Support enforcement of tobacco laws to prevent access to minors.

Medicine’s Message

  • Smoking is the leading cause of premature death
  • The scientific evidence is indisputable: Secondhand smoke is not just an annoyance; it is a serious health hazard that can sicken and kill children and nonsmoking adults.
  • Similar to lead in paint and gasoline, and salmonella in food, exposure to secondhand smoke is purely a public health issue.
  • Studies show significant health benefits in communities and states after a smoking ban, including decreased heart attacks and fewer hospitalizations.
  • Tobacco use is a major risk factor for multiple cancers, heart disease, stroke, and lung disease, and 32,000 kids will start smoking this year.