, Port Arthur, Texas

January 28, 2010

Tobacco Coalition touts smoke-free Port Arthur

• Secondhand smoke (also called environmental tobacco smoke) is the combination of smoke given off by the burning end of a tobacco product and the smoke exhaled by the smoker.

• Of the chemicals identified in secondhand smoke, more than 50 have been found to cause cancer.

• Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in nonsmokers.

• Secondhand smoke causes heart disease in adults and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, and asthma attacks in children.

• There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Source: National Cancer Institute

By Sherry Koonce

The News staff writer

Cheddar’s Restaurant in Port Arthur was honored Wednesday for it’s smoke-free environment. The franchise is the first to be honored monthly by the Jefferson County Tobacco Coalition.

Other area smoke-free restaurants will be recognized every month for similar policies.

“We’d like for smoke-free to spread all the way through Mid and South-County,” Dorraine Smith, Coalition chairwoman, said.

Coalition members presented Cheddar’s manager Bryan Foster with a certificate recognizing the restaurant franchise’s commitment to creating a healthy environment for Southeast Texans.

Since its opening Oct. 19, 2009, the restaurant has not allowed customers to smoke indoors, but does supply an outside patio area for smokers.

All Cheddar’s franchises are smoke-free.

Foster said the number of people offering thanks for a smoke-free environment far exceed those complaining.

“We give customers a good environment to eat,” Foster said. “It’s not good when eating and breathing smoke.”

Aside from a more pleasing atmosphere, customers are not subjected to the health hazards of second-hand smoke.

“We realize smoking is a choice for everyone, but so is breathing clean air,” Amanda McLauchlin, with Southeast East Texas Regional Planning Substance Abuse Division, said.

Second-hand smoke subjects unwilling people to the dangers of tobacco — a substance that contributes to one-third of all cancer-related deaths.

In 2006, the Jefferson County Tobacco Coalition successfully pushed for the city of Beaumont to institute a no-smoking ordinance in public places, including restaurants and bars.

Since then, Beaumont restaurants have added patios for the convenience of smokers, much like the one at Cheddar’s, Smith said.

Beaumont is among the 30 Texas cities with smoke-free ordinances. Other surrounding cities prohibiting smoking in public places include Galveston, Houston, Baytown, Pearland and Conroe.

Jefferson County Tobacco Prevention Coalition is comprised of 17 area agencies including the American Cancer Society, public health departments from the cities of Beaumont and Port Arthur, Medical Center of Southeast Texas, Port Arthur YMCA, Renaissance Hospital, and Christus St. Elizabeth and St. Mary Hospitals, among others.

The Coalition has compiled a list of 50 restaurants offering smoke-free dining in the Port Arthur, Mid-County area, and plans to recognize one of the establishments every month.