TESTIMONY OF CONSULTANT FOR THE TEXAS PTA
FAVORING A SMOKE-FREE WORKPLACE LAW

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Testimony before the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
SB 368 by Senator Rodney Ellis    4-19-07 

Good evening Madam Chair and members of the committee. My name is Carey Dabney. I am the Healthy Lifestyles Consultant to the board of the Texas Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and the parent of two daughters.  

On behalf of the 600,000 plus members of the largest child advocacy organization in Texas, I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of SB 368. 

I am here today because we are concerned about the effects of secondhand smoke on our children. 

As everyone knows, secondhand smoke contains chemicals that are known to be toxic or cancer causing, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide. The current Surgeon Generalís report states that there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure, and that even brief exposures can be harmful to children. 

Please consider the following from the American Lung Association[1]

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke exacerbates 400,000-1,000,000 cases of asthma in children annually. New evidence suggests that secondhand smoke is a risk factor for developing asthma among children and adolescents.
     
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke causes 150,000 to 300,000 acute lower respiratory tract infections annually in children 18 months and younger, resulting in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year.
     
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes buildup of fluid in the middle ear. These infections are the most common cause of childhood operations and hearing loss. 
     
  • Babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant or who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth have weaker lungs than other babies, which also increase the risk of many other health problems.

The economic cost of smoking related illness is enormous. The savings, in reduced health care expenses alone, should be incentive enough to support SB 368.  

But as parents and responsible adults we also have an obligation to provide safe and healthy indoor public environments for our children.  

Enforcing a statewide ban on smoking in indoor public places is an excellent way to protect both the health and pocketbook of all Texans.  Please support SB 368.

[1] American Lung Association, Second Hand Smoke and Children Fact Sheet, http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=39857, August 2006.

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