Travis Co approves ban on all tobacco use on county property

Travis Co approves ban on all tobacco use on county property

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Tobacco is no longer allowed on Travis County Property. Commission members took a vote on the ban Tuesday.

Smoking is already prohibited in county vehicles, buildings and parks during a children's event. The move expands the ban to parking lots, all parks at all times and work sites.

"Four out of the top five killers in Travis co are directly related to tobacco use," said Phil Huang, Austin Travis Health and Human Svcs Medical Dir.

It's why Travis County Commissioners are looking at expanding a current smoking ban to include all tobacco products at all county properties. Smoker Amanda Matalon says she's tried to quit twice.

"It's a nasty habit. I'll be the first to admit," she said.

She also says an all-out ban is going too far.

"Restaurants and bars I can understand because I'm in an enclosed space but when you are out in the open, that's just stupid," she said.

The proposed ban also means no dip or electronic cigarettes.

"There is a lot that is unknown about those products still in terms of what's included in those vapors," said Huang.

He says a county poll shows 72% of employees back the move to ban all tobacco products. It's a good thing he says because 570 deaths a year in Travis County are attributed to tobacco. It's not just bad for your health but your wallet

Data shows tobacco use in Travis County costs about $460 million a year; $155 million of that in lost productivity, smoke breaks and $305 million in health care costs.

Matalon says she cutting back and hopes to quit soon, but it's not just hard, it's also expensive.

"Right now it's difficult for a lot of people to spend 30 or 40 for a patch when you spend $6 for a pack of cigarettes," said Matalon.

It will cost about $8,000 for signs, decals and posts. The ban will go into effect on April 7th, World Health Day.

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