Other Voices

Every Fort Worth worker deserves a smoke-free workplace

A no smoking sign hanging outside of City Hall. The Fort Worth City Council is discussing a smoking ordinance Tuesday.
A no smoking sign hanging outside of City Hall. The Fort Worth City Council is discussing a smoking ordinance Tuesday. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce completely supports making all workplaces in our city smoke-free. Serious health risks come from secondhand smoke, including heart disease, lung cancer, asthma and emphysema.

No one should work in an unsafe environment, but unfortunately bar employees and entertainers in Fort Worth are forced to do so every day. African-Americans have higher rates of occupational exposure to secondhand smoke, due in part to the fact that people of color are disproportionately employed in bars and service industries that have the least protection from smoke-free laws. All other industries are regulated for health and safety, and smoke-free policies provide that same protection for service industry employees.

African-Americans are disproportionately affected by exposure to secondhand smoke. Nearly half (46.8 percent) of African-Americans are still exposed to this preventable health hazard. Rates are higher among youth. Among African-American children 3 to 11 years old, 7 in 10 are exposed to secondhand smoke, compared with 37.2 percent of white kids of the same age.

I encourage our City Council to take this step to protect the health of employees, musicians and customers of all races and ethnicities in all industries by making Fort Worth smoke-free.

Devoyd Jennings is the president and CEO of the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce

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