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UTEP School of Pharmacy Helps Border Town Adopt a Smoke-Free Ordinance

Last Updated on October 30, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Originally published October 30, 2017

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

A Smoke Free Paso del Norte, an initiative of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, assisted the mayor and council of the Town of Anthony, Texas, to adopt an ordinance that protects its residents from the negative consequences of exposure to secondhand smoke. The Anthony City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will prohibit the smoking of commercial and electronic cigarettes in restaurants, bars, parks, and playgrounds at its Oct. 23 meeting.

Triangle Park in Anthony, Texas. Photo:
Triangle Park in Anthony, Texas. Photo:

The University of Texas at El Paso School of Pharmacy serves as the backbone organization to the A Smoke Free Paso del Norte initiative. José O. Rivera, Pharm.D., founding dean of the school, was the principal investigator of the Smoke Free Initiative.

“Those who work in public health, and especially tobacco control, know that through policy adoptions such as this one, we move closer to achieving a level of health equity in our region,” Rivera said. “The A Smoke Free Paso del Norte initiative applauds the Town of Anthony for its efforts.”

Alderman Shawn Weeks recognized both the council and the community effort toward the adoption of the ordinance after the vote.

“This happened for a few reasons, one of which is that this Council recognized that change, not just any change but healthy change, is good for the community. But also the support of the community, as shown by the people who spoke after the passage,” said Weeks.

Those community members included Anthony resident Amanda Crawford. “I quit over six years ago for my family and for my own good health,” said Crawford. “For my health and others, I am glad that this ordinance was approved.”

The Public and Workplace Smoking Restrictions ordinance prohibits smoking in all enclosed properties, open spaces within or between enclosed facilities, outside areas within 20 feet of a doorway, and all properties owned or leased by the Town of Anthony. It also offers protection to youth and families that utilize the city’s parks, baseball fields, and skate park.

In 2015, the Clean Air Coalition and Paso del Norte Tobacco Control Network members conducted a survey during school registration week for the Anthony Independent School District. The survey of more than 250 residents showed that over 90 percent support a policy protecting youth and families from secondhand smoke in parks and playgrounds. The results of the survey were presented to the council in January 2017. The ordinance was introduced in September and the council took immediate action to ensure its passage.

The Town of Anthony and the City of El Paso Department of Public Health will work together to educate the community and enforce the new ordinance. A Smoke Free Paso del Norte will provide technical assistance as needed to the Town of Anthony.