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 in Texas calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Restore funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs that was significantly cut in years 2018 and 2019;
- Continue to pass comprehensive local smokefree ordinances to builds towards a statewide smokefree law; and
- Increasing the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21.
The American Lung Association in Texas along with our partners at Smoke-Free Texas provides leadership and guidance for public policy efforts to continue the state's success in reducing the impact of tobacco among Texans. Together with our partners, the American Lung Association in Texas works to ensure tobacco control and prevention remains a priority for state legislators and local decision makers.
During the 2017 legislative session, the American Lung Association along with our partners of the Texas 21 Coalition supported legislation increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 years old. House Bill 190 passed the House Committee on Public Health but failed to get additional committee hearings. On the local level, the city of San Antonio was considering passage of a local Tobacco 21 ordinance when this report went to press.
The Lung Association in partnership with the Texas Cancer Partnership coalition worked to extend the sunset review date for the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) by two years. This allows the agency to fully invest $3 billion in cancer prevention programs and research.
Significant progress continued to be made in 2017 on passing smokefree ordinances at the local level. Fort Worth, the largest metro area in Texas without a comprehensive smokefree ordinance previously, passed an ordinance that prohibits smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces in December 2017. This was a multi-year effort by tobacco control advocates, including the Lung Association, and a significant step forward. Another large city, Arlington, also passed a mostly comprehensive smokefree law in 2017, but disappointingly included exemptions for e-cigarettes and bingo halls. Texas currently has 88 cities that have passed comprehensive smokefree ordinances protecting more than 12.4 million citizens from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
The Texas Legislature only meets in odd numbered years, so moving forward in 2018, the Lung Association and its partners in the Smoke-Free Texas coalition will work in communities around the state to pass, and in some cases strengthen existing, local smokefree ordinances. The Lung Association will also look for opportunities to advance Tobacco 21 at the local level in Texas.