Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Texas. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Texas' elected officials:
- Restore funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs that was significantly cut in 2017;
- Continue to pass comprehensive local smokefree ordinances to builds towards a statewide smokefree law; and
- Increase the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21.
The Texas Legislature only meets in odd numbered years, so in 2018 the American Lung Association in Texas and its partners in the Smokefree Texas coalition worked in communities around the state to pass local smokefree ordinances. Fort Worth implemented its local smokefree law in March 2018 becoming the last major city in Texas to prohibit smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces. Texas currently has 104 cities with comprehensive smokefree ordinances protecting more than 12.5 million citizens from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
State funding for Texas' tobacco prevention program in the Texas Department of State Health Services was severely cut in the two-year state budget approved in 2017, leaving only $4.2 million in funding to prevent and reduce tobacco use across the entire state in fiscal year 2019.
Moving forward in 2019, the Lung Association will work with its partners to once again pursue an increase in the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products to 21. In 2017 this bill passed an initial House Committee but failed to get additional committee hearings. The Lung Association will also work to restore funding to the Tobacco Education and Enforcement Fund that was cut during the 2017 legislative session
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