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12 Cities Go Smoke-Free in 12 Months

It's been an incredible year!

In the past 12 months, because of your support, phone calls, testimony, and dedication to seeing a healthier Texas, we have helped to pass12 smoke-free ordinances in cities across the state! This means that in just one year, over 705,000 additional Texans are now covered by smoke-free air ordiances and are able to live healthier lives. It means that 12 more cities are now safer for all workers and patrons. These wins bring our total to 52 cities covered in Texas, and we couldn't have done it without you...but the fight is long from over! We need to continue working hard to ensure that ALL Texans have the right to breathe smoke-free air!

Want to see your city go smoke-free? Email Samantha Bender (Samantha.Bender@heart.org) to find out how to get involved with smoke-free efforts in your area!

 

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Mesquite Goes Smoke-Free

We have great news out of North Texas! The City of Mesquite unanimously passed a smoke-free ordinance, which will provide a safe working environment for all workers within the city! Thanks to the support of city council and our dedicated You're the Cure advocates, 144,416 more Texans will now breathe easier.

We would like to thank AHA Board Chair, Linda Fox (pictured), for her leadership and commitment to helping us build a healthier community. Mesquite, TX becomes the 51st Texas City to have a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, and becomes the 11th Texas City since July 2016 to adopt such a law. This victory brings the total number of Texans covered by a smoke-free ordinance to 623,993.

Want to see your city go smoke-free? Email Samantha.Bender@heart.org to get connected with efforts in your area!

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Creating a Healthier Wooster for All

The city of Wooster became the first city in Arkansas since 2008 to pass a comprehensive smoke free ordinance.  The city council unanimously adopted this ordinance, making all indoor workplaces in the community smoke free.  The measure also applies to e-delivery devices, known as e-cigarettes.  "I'm proud that our community is the first in Faulkner County to pass a comprehensive smoke free ordinance. As the City of Wooster continues to grow, this ordinance ensures that all of our citizens are protected from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke,” said Wooster Mayor Terry Don Robinson. Congratulations to Wooster, and thanks to all of our You're the Cure advocates who helped make this happen!

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Clear Lungs, Full Hearts, Can't Lose - 50 Texas Cities Go Smoke-Free

On April 19th, the City of Universal City voted unanimously to pass a smoke-free ordinance that protects all workers and residents from the deadly effects of second-hand smoke!

In doing so, they not only became another Texas city choosing to prioritize the health of their residents, but they became the 50th city in Texas to do so! While we still have a long way to go, this is truly a cause for celebration! We are endlessly thankful for the continued passion, tireless help, and strong voices of our citizen volunteers and advocates who were critical in passing each and every one of these 50 ordinances.

Because of all of you, 50 cities in Texas can now breathe easier, and together we will continue to work to ensure that ALL Texans have that same right.

Onward and upward, y'all!

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Port Arthur Goes Smoke-Free!

Last Tuesday, April 5th, the Port Arthur City Council voted unanimously (9-0) in favor of a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance! Port Arthur is now the 48th city in Texas to go smoke-free!

We are incredibly thankful for all our smoke-free supporters who sent emails, made calls, and testified before City Council. Your actions made this happen!

Once this ordinance goes into effect, Port Arthur residents and visitors will be able to enjoy their favorite places without the harmful effects of exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke. Restaurant and bar workers will be able to breathe easier and live healthier lives.

We would not be here without the support and dedication of our You're the Cure advocates to making Port Arthur a healthier place to live.

Thank you!

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SmokeFree Little Rock Needs YOU!

SmokeFree Little Rock is continuing its work to make all indoor workplaces free of secondhand smoke, but we need YOU!  The coalition is working to engage partners throughout the community and grow our grassroots support of the campaign in order to create a healthier Little Rock for everyone!   It’s not too late to get involved and make a difference!  

Please contact Matt Henry at Matt.Henry@heart.org for more information.

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Stories from the Street: McAllen Healthy Hearts 5k & Smoke-Free RGV

The following is a post by Local Policy Manager, Jerry Saavedra on his experience at the McAllen Healthy Hearts 5k

It was a great weekend in McAllen! This past Valentine’s Day weekend, the McAllen Heart Hospital and The Heart Clinic held their second-annual Healthy Hearts 5K. The turnout was amazing with over 500 people from across the RGV lacing up their running shoes to show their support!

As part of this event, our Smoke-Free RGV team had a table where we were able to engage with participants, talk with them about the devastating impact of secondhand smoke, and ask them if they would sign our petition cards & take a picture with our “100% smoke-free community” sign (check out our photo album from the event) to express their support for their community passing a 100% smoke-free ordinance. 

STORIES OF SUPPORT:

The support from the community was overwhelming! One woman told me that she doesn’t like to go out to bars with her friends and co-workers because the secondhand smoke always upsets her breathing and sinuses.  She said she would love to be able to go out and not smell like smoke and feel bad when she got home.  We agree.

My favorite conversation was with a man who, when I told him what we were doing at the event, told me he was a smoker.  He then turned to his wife and said with a chuckle, “They want me to sign a petition to make our city smoke-free.” She nodded her head and rolled her eyes a little. 

But then a surprising thing happened.  He turned to me and said, “You know what.  I’ll sign your petition.”  He went on to say that although he was a smoker, other people who are having a meal or having a few drinks should not have to breathe in his secondhand smoke.  “I think it’s reasonable for us smokers to just go outside to smoke.  I don’t see the problem with that.”

This gentleman and the hundreds of other people who showed their support by signing petition cards and taking pictures, made my day and reaffirmed to me that communities across the Rio Grande Valley and the entire State of Texas want to live and work in comprehensive 100% smoke-free cities.  As one woman I met put it, “It really is just common sense.” 

If you support your community going smoke-free, click here to sign the petition!  Together we will make the Rio Grande Valley a healthier place to live, work, and raise a family.

 

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Meet Dr. Jennifer Redmond Knight

"Since I was a young girl, I have been concerned with the dangers of secondhand smoke.  As a life-long asthma sufferer, I personally knew how harmful secondhand smoke was to my health and when I discovered the dangers for all people, I became a passionate advocate.  In 2002, while working on my Master of Public Health degree, I had the opportunity to join the Lexington-Fayette County Kentucky smoke-free campaign.  I remember testifying to the city council, writing letters to the editor and educating all those who would listen about the dangers of secondhand smoke.  In 2009, I was asked to be part of the Smoke-free Kentucky Leadership team focused on promoting a comprehensive state-wide policy.  I served in this capacity until 2013 when I moved to Little Rock, AR.  I am a native of Batesville, AR and one of the things I asked frequently upon coming back to Arkansas was "when are we going to strengthen our current smoke-free law to become comprehensive?"  I am honored to currently be serving as chair of the SmokeFree Little Rock Campaign and look forward to the day when all people who live, work and play in Little Rock and every other community in Arkansas, Kentucky, the United States and the world are protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke! "

Dr. Jennifer Redmond Knight lives in Little Rock and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, where she serves as a Co-Investigator for the Kentucky Cancer Consortium, Co-Principal Investigator for a new Lung Cancer Prevention and Early Detection project; and Co-Investigator for an NCI grant focused on an HPV vaccination environmental scan. She is also a facilitator/strategic planner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s coordinated chronic disease prevention and health promotion efforts, and leads their cancer control leadership team. She facilitated regional forums and provided support in strategic planning for Kentucky’s Changing this Generation project. She also facilitated the development of the Texas Cancer Plan and Future Directions workgroups for the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas.

Her areas of expertise include partnership sustainability, program development, group facilitation, epidemiology, evaluation and policy, systems and environmental change efforts. Her current focus areas relate to the Affordable Care Act and Cancer & Lung Cancer Prevention and Early Detection.
Dr. Knight has her BA in Communications from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and DrPH in Health Services Management from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

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McAllen Goes Red, Help Them Go Smoke-Free

On January 25th, the McAllen City Commission proclaimed February 5th, 2016 as “National Wear Red Day” at their City Commission meeting. The proclamation was read and presented by City Commissioner Trey Pebley and AHA volunteer, Mario Reyna from the McAllen ISD, accepted the proclamation on behalf of AHA.

McAllen went red, but we also need them to go smoke-free! While heart disease is the #1 killer of women, 80% of deaths related to heart disease can be prevented with lifestyle changes. During the presentation, AHA Senior Local Policy Manager Jerry Saavedra spoke specifically about the connection between exposure to secondhand smoke and heart disease. Secondhand tobacco smoke contributes to approximately 34,000 premature heart disease deaths every year. In addition, studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25-30 percent higher among people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home or work

We know a smoke-free ordinance would dramatically improve the heart health McAllen residents and workers, but we need your help to make it happen! If you want to get involved with smoke-free efforts in McAllen, email Jerry Saavedra (Jerry.Saavedra@heart.org)

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Seven Months, Seven Cities

368,751. That’s how many Texans can breathe easier this year.

In the past 7 months, 7 cities in Texas have made a big step towards improving the heart health of their citizens. The cities of Sherman, Waco, DeSoto, Port Lavaca, Edinburg, Red Oak, and Duncanville have all passed smoke-free ordinances that will protect workers and residents from toxic and life-threatening secondhand smoke exposure. These ordinances will lead to a decreased number of heart attacks, asthma attacks, strokes and hospitalizations in these cities, and ultimately they will save the lives of many Texans.

This is a movement that has spread across Texas, but we didn’t do this alone. Each of these victories toward a healthier Texas could never have happened without the support, dedication, and passion of our volunteers all across the state. Their commitment to the health of their communities was a powerful force that pushed these ordinances forward!

While we celebrate these seven cities for their decision to protect the health of their workers and residents, we know the fight continues. We hope you'll continue to stand beside us as we seek to make more cities across Texas smoke-free! To find out how you can be a part of this movement in your city please contact Samantha Bender (Samantha.Bender@heart.org).


(Volunteers and staff in Edinburg, TX)

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