On Tuesday evening, March 9, the city council in Horizon City unanimously passed a comprehensive smoke-free policy that includes businesses and public spaces located in the fast-growing El Paso suburb.
“The American Heart Association fully supports the new ordinance in Horizon City,” said Eva Olivas, community impact director for the American Heart Association of El Paso and Horizon City resident. “We believe that everyone has the right to breathe clean air, whether you’re working in an enclosed space like a restaurant or out shopping with your family,” she said. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans die prematurely each year as a result of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, including people here in Horizon City.”
The new ordinance’s intended goal is to improve air quality and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. Its passage guarantees the right of everyone to breathe smoke-free air, joining 104 other Texas cities with similar laws, including El Paso, Houston and Austin.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and can cause coronary heart disease and stroke. In addition, nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 35 percent.
The new ordinance has many supporters in Horizon City, such as long-time resident and Clint Independent School District Board Member, Arturo “Rocky” Cruz.
“I think it’s important for us to mention that this not only affects current members of our community but more importantly, our youth,” said Cruz.” Cruz believes the new law will provide a healthier environment for the next generation of residents as they establish roots in Horizon City. Of the ordinance, Cruz added, “what better way is there to prepare for the future than with a healthier, smoke-free Horizon?”
Ensor Middle School sixth-grader, Sebastian Aceves voiced his support for the new ordinance as well. He said that he and his family try to keep their lungs healthy and avoid breathing in second-hand smoke, particularly during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. “I think that having Horizon be smoke-free helps make sure that our community is keeping us safe and healthy, especially me and my friends who all live and hang out here in Horizon.”
“When people live and work in a smoke-free environment, they can literally breathe easier because they aren’t being exposed to the diseases and risks that come from secondhand smoke,” said Olivas. “Far too many people in Horizon City, especially kids and senior citizens, are at a higher risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer due to secondhand smoke,” she said. “That’s why the American Heart Association supports comprehensive smoke-free laws here at the local level in El Paso County.”
The American Heart Association believes that the new ordinance in Horizon City will also benefit local businesses. “There is increasing evidence at the state and local level that in many instances, businesses see increased sales,” said Olivas. “Not only that, but they will often see savings when it comes to lower cleaning costs, lower absenteeism among employees, and increased worker productivity.”