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Advocating for Change: Smoke-Free Update

by Brian B. on Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Harlingen recently passed a strong smoke-free ordinance to join 35 other Texas cities in protecting their workers, residents, and visitors from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.  We have more information on the big win from Harlingen as well as updates from Wichita Falls and Lubbock!

Harlingen Goes Smoke-Free

Harlingen will now join 35 other cities in Texas that can proudly proclaim to be smoke free! 

During a specially called meeting on May 27, the Harlingen City Commission gave final approval to a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance that will make all worksites in the city of Harlingen, including restaurants, bars, private clubs, and gaming facilities smoke-free. 

Thanks to the efforts of You’re the Cure volunteers, who educated and encouraged the city commission to pass the ordinance, more residents will now be protected from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. During the campaign, volunteers helped secure 115 local smoke-free postcard petitions that were delivered to the city commission, emailed numerous letters to the mayor and commissioners, and testified at public hearings. 
 
AHA volunteer Dr. Victoria Parada, Stroke Director and Clinical Director of Neurosciences at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen, testified before the commission, submitted a letter to the editor to the local newspaper, and appeared on a local Fox/Univision morning show to help raise awareness about this issue. 

Erlinda Abantao, Stroke Coordinator at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen and AHA volunteer, testified twice before the commission and helped AHA staff to collect smoke-free petition cards from Harlingen residents.

A special thank you to long-time AHA volunteer and Smoke-Free Leadership Council member Ruthie Ewers, who personally reached out to the mayor and city commissioners to help them understand the need to strengthen their smoke-free ordinance, coordinated and attended meetings with the mayor and city commissioners, and testified at public hearings. Mrs. Ewers deserves a great deal of gratitude for her efforts in the Harlingen smoke-free campaign. 

Thank you to all of our You’re the Cure advocates who took action on this issue – your voices were heard! The Harlingen smoke-free ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2014.

Wichita Falls

The Wichita Falls City Council is expected to vote on a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance on June 17th at 8:30am.  On June 3rd the Health Department presented the council with the proposed comprehensive ordinance. 

During public comments AHA volunteer Mindy Giles spoke about her time as a hospitality worker having to quit her job because of second-hand smoke exposure.  Mindy has also written this letter to the editor: http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2014/may/22/letter-editor-support-smoking-ordinance/.

We encourage everyone to share this story on social media and comment in support of this letter. In addition to Mindy’s testimony we had volunteers there wearing blue and a “I Support a Smoke-Free Wichita Falls” sticker to show their support.  As of today we have had 301 Wichita Falls residents sign “I Support Smoke-Free for My Community” petition cards.  The cards will be delivered to city council members on June 17th.   

Lubbock

We would like to highlight that our volunteer Michael Clintsman, owner of Local Bar and Grill, has decided to make his establishment smoke-free!  Over the past couple of months he has become very involved in the campaign as Co-Chair of the West Texas Smoke-Free Coalition and believes that this is best for his business, but most importantly, for the health of his employees. 

After holding a media advocacy training with the West Texas Smoke-Free Coalition they have become very strong advocates in the media. 

Most recently, Stephen LoCascio (General Manager for Bar PM) and Coalition Chair Matthew Harris gave interviews to KCBD which aired the story on June 4th.  Please view the article that was written about it here: http://www.kcbd.com/story/25697393/west-texas-smoke-free-coalition-wants-to-end-smoking-in-restaurants-and-bars and share the article on social media.

Please contact brian.bowser@heart.org if you would like to get more involved in Smoke-Free efforts in your city!

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Comments (1)

  • I was there and testified for the ordinance.It was a struggle but thank God is passed.

    — Rachel G.

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