Fort Worth will experience a breath of fresh air on March 12. That’s the day the city will enact its comprehensive smoking ordinance, ending smoking in bars and bingo parlors. Those locations join Fort Worth worksites and restaurants in becoming smoke-free. The city significantly expands its culture of health and well-being with this important step.
Texas Health Resources has been proud to play a key role in this, which is just one part of the well-being transformation of Fort Worth. As the region’s largest healthcare system, Texas Health is dedicated to improving the health of the people in the communities we serve.
In recent years, we have grown that commitment by supporting a movement that aims to ultimately reduce some of the demand for our services — making hospitals agents of preventative health, in large part, rather than institutions responding to chronic disease. It started in 2015, when we first partnered with Mayor Betsy Price and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce on an innovative effort to improve well-being. Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative that makes healthy choices easier. Texas Health Resources serves as the initiative’s largest sponsor in Fort Worth, supporting Blue Zones Project as it works with restaurants, worksites, neighborhoods, schools, grocery stores, faith-based organizations, and others to implement practices associated with longevity.
The initiative has made important strides, such as creating new options in “food deserts” with limited access to healthy foods and ensuring safe routes for children to walk to school. Texas Health Resources and 100 other Fort Worth employers have joined the movement, impacting the health of tens of thousands of people who work in our city. More than 55 restaurants and 37 schools have also gotten on board.
This spring’s implementation of the comprehensive smoking ordinance, backed by Texas Health, the American Heart Association, Smoke-Free Fort Worth, and Blue Zones Project is another achievement in this well-being effort that will help move us toward a healthier Fort Worth.
The smoking ordinance has been a high priority because the research is extremely clear: secondhand smoke is deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that separating smokers from nonsmokers, opening windows, and using air filters does not prevent inhalation of secondhand smoke. The only effective protection is to eliminate smoking, period. By prohibiting smoking in bars, bingo parlors, restaurants, and worksites, we ensure that Fort Worth’s environment supports health and well-being for all of its citizens. The ordinance will protect patrons as well as service industry employees and entertainers who are at risk from breathing secondhand smoke. No one should have to choose between a job and their health.
The ordinance is not just good for our health though; it also is good for business. As Mayor Price stated in December, business owners were already moving toward smoke-free environments, and this change brings Fort Worth’s smoking ordinance in line with all other major metropolitan cities in the state.
Texas Health applauds city leaders, employers, and citizens who took a stand for a smoke-free Fort Worth. This critical step is possible because so many people in our community are committed to making Fort Worth one of the healthiest cities in the nation—and that’s something we can all be proud of.
Barclay Berdan is CEO of Texas Health Resources, which serves 16 North Texas counties through more than 350 points of access, including 29 hospital locations. Texas Health Resources is the largest health system in the United States to earn Blue Zones Project approval.