Austin Celebrates 15 Years of Smokefree Success, Sets Example for other Music Cities

2020-09-01T09:07:17-07:00September 1st, 2020|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |

Smokefree Cities Stay Safe at Home Concert Series is Focused on Austin-based artists in September

Austin, TX (September 1, 2020) — On this day in September 2005, Austin implemented a citywide smokefree law in nearly all public places, including the bars, restaurants, and venues that have earned the Texas capital its reputation as the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

15 years later, Austin’s smokefree law has become a way of life. According to the city’s artists and merchants, going smokefree wasn’t just good for locals’ lungs; it was good for business too.

“Our business went up!” says Joe Ables, owner of the Saxon Pub for 30 years. “We have more people coming back to see us. We smoked in the venue for 15 years, and sometimes you could hardly see the stage. But the smokers got used to going outside. We put a patio out there, made it real nice, and created a whole new scene. Our maintenance costs are lower, too; we don’t have to clear the ashes off the floor, and the AC works a lot better. I have a healthier staff. I highly recommend it.”

Local songwriters like BettySoo agree. “The transition was surprisingly smooth, and not only did the venues survive, they thrived,” BettySoo says of the smokefree law. “Employees, musicians, fans — everyone benefited from a healthier environment and a lot of people who had avoided smoking venues now felt comfortable attending shows there. For those of us playing on stage and singing, not having to take big breaths full of smoke meant we could sing longer and sing better, and that meant a better show for everyone. Looking back, it’s hard to even imagine how anxious I was about the change, and I am so glad those days of indoor smoke in Austin are behind us!”

With clean air and good respiratory health on everybody’s minds this year, a milestone like Austin’s smokefree anniversary is worthy of celebration. That’s why the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation is dedicating its Stay Safe at Home weekly series of live-streamed mini-concerts to Austin-based artists throughout the month of September. The shows will feature musicians like 12-time Austin Music Award winner Gina Chavez, Austin Music Hall of Fame member Marcia Ball, and rising guitarist and singer/songwriter Jackie Venson. Each artist will share their experiences performing in smoke-filled and smokefree venues, noting how their health and ability to perform improved once Austin went smokefree in 2005. A full list of all showcasing Austin artists is provided in the graphic.

Sadly, it’s not unusual for artists to still experience secondhand smoke in casinos, bars, or other venues while on the road in cities like Lake Charles, LA and Nashville, TN. There is more work to be done in Texas, too, where only 44.5% of residents live in communities protected by strong local smokefree laws.

In this time of illness, COVID-19 continues to threaten the health of American citizens and businesses. As many of those businesses reopen their doors, there’s never been a better time to implement a no-smoking policy or to adopt smokefree law.

“Smokefree indoor air sends a clear message that safety is a priority, said Cynthia Hallett, President and CEO of ANR Foundation. “Shifting smoking from indoor areas to outdoor areas helps keep workers healthy and to keep businesses open by reducing the spread of infectious respiratory droplets associated with indoor smoking.”

“Smokefree air is good for health and good for business,” Hallett added. “The vast majority of adults—more than 90 percent of young adults—do not smoke.”

In addition to this month’s milestone in Austin, New Orleans celebrated its 5-year-smokefree anniversary and Atlanta’s bars and clubs also went smokefree in January. So as we celebrate these achievements, we hope they serve as shining examples to cities across the U.S. about the importance of eliminating secondhand smoke as a basic step to protect health and save lives.

Join us in celebrating this important smokefree milestone

by watching our Stay Safe at Home series every Tuesday at Noon PST/2pm CST and Friday at 3pm PST/5pm CST.  Our featured artist on Tuesday, Sept 1 is Johnny Goudie and Friday, Sept 4 we feature BettySoo!  Marcia Ball will close out our Spotlight on Austin on Friday, October 2.

Invite your friends, post to social media, thank the City of Austin, and be sure to thank these musicians for sharing their stories and their music with us as we celebrate Austin and encourage all cities to Go Smokefree!

Here are a few ideas for sharing these shows:

Thank you Austin, TX for protecting musicians’ heart and lungs for the past 15 years. #musicianhealth #publichealth

Congrats to Austin – 15 years as a Smokefree Music City. #smokefreeATX15

Every city should be a #smokefreemusiccity. #ATX did it. You can too! #smokefreeATX15 #smokefreemusiccities #musicianhealth #publichealth #reopensmokefree #secondhandsmokeisdangerous

Johnny Goudie Premiere September 1 12pm PT / 2pm CT

A special kick off to our Stay Safe At Home Series for September! We're celebrating 15 years of smokefree air in Austin, Texas.

Posted by Smokefree Music Cities on Saturday, August 29, 2020