By W. Stephen Love, President/CEO, DFW Hospital Council
It’s that time of year when we begin our New Year’s resolutions. There is one that North Texas could adopt that would save lives and improve the health of everyone, especially our children. It would advance our population health and reduce cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, SIDS and other respiratory disorders.
Before you imagine treadmills, jogging and other forms of exercise coupled with proper diet (all good activities), this resolution does not require personal physical commitment. It does not include any debate regarding the Affordable Care Act.
Many North Texas cities have already adopted this resolution. In fact, we thank the leadership of Denton and DeSoto for joining this healthy initiative in 2015. However, we have many North Texas municipalities that need to adopt this New Year’s Resolution in 2016. We challenge them to help improve the health of their communities.
Yes, we have many communities in North Texas that have never enacted a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. Without this ordinance, employees and patrons of establishments such as sports bars and restaurants are exposed to the dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Many are toxic, causing cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions.
Annually, approximately 43,000 Americans die from exposure to secondhand smoke. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) state that the only means of effectively eliminating health risks associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking. In other words, ventilation technology does not protect people from secondhand smoke, as there is no level of exposure considered risk-free.
We thank the leadership of our North Texas cities for their public service and conscientious efforts. If your city or municipality has not adopted a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, please do so in 2016. It is the right thing to do for the health of your citizens. We hope you had a happy holiday and let’s make all of North Texas smoke-free in 2016!