Fresh air

Ahh, take a deep breath and get a whiff of that tobacco-free air! It’s been almost a year since we kicked-off the first phase of our tobacco-free facilities policy, and the accolades are rolling in.

Risk Manager Mike Nyren accepts the Secondhand Smoke award

Last month Capital Metro Risk Manager Mike Nyren received the Secondhand Smoke Award at the 2011 Texas Teen Tobacco Summit & Comprehensive Tobacco Prevention Conference. The event is a joint  effort between The Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas School Safety Center. The award recognizes Capital Metro “for tireless commitment and major contributions to the field of tobacco prevention and control and to the citizens of Texas. Through your diligence and hard work, Texas children, families and communities will be stronger, healthier and tobacco-free.” (See photos from the conference on Facebook.)

Here’s a refresher on how the policy works.  The bus and train passenger loading areas and other common gathering areas at the following Capital Metro-owned transit centers and park & rides are tobacco-free zones:

  • Crestview Station
  • Downtown Station
  • Highland Station
  • Howard Station and Park & Ride
  • Kramer Station
  • Lakeline Station and Park & Ride
  • Leander Station and Park & Ride
  • MLK, Jr. Station
  • North Lamar Transit Center
  • Pavilion Park &  Ride
  • Plaza Saltillo Station
  • South Congress Transit Center
  • Tech Ridge Park &  Ride

And by tobacco-free, we’re not just talking about cigarettes. That covers everything else too, such as cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, dip, snuff, etc. I guess Big League Chew is acceptable if you promise to spit it in the trash when you’re finished!

We began the policy at the rail stations in September 2010 and expanded it to the other facilities in January 2011. Here are some of the more common questions we get about it:

Where can I use tobacco?

Individuals can only use tobacco products outside of the designated tobacco-free zones at the transit centers and park & rides. These zones are marked with signage. A general rule of thumb is not to smoke or use other tobacco products within 15 feet of the designated tobacco-free zones. When in doubt, put it out.

Why doesn’t Capital Metro want me to use tobacco?

Capital Metro is not requiring that you quit using tobacco. You may continue with your choice to use tobacco products, but not in the designated tobacco-free zones.

Why did Capital Metro make these policies?

Capital Metro enacted tobacco-free policies at its facilities because we believe that ensuring a healthy work and traveling environment is a key to providing safe, quality, state-of-the-art transit services.

What support is available to help those who want to quit using tobacco?

Free community cessation resources such as individual counseling or group cessation classes and nicotine replacement therapies are available to the public through a Tobacco Education Resource Center offered by the Seton Family of Hospitals at (512) 324-2762, and through the American Cancer Society’s Quitline at 1-877-Yes-Quit.

Why is this a priority for Capital Metro?

Capital Metro enacted tobacco-free policies because we believe that ensuring a healthy work and traveling environment is a key to providing safe, quality, state-of-the-art transit services.

Capital Metro partnered with Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services through Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), a federally-funded grant focused on reducing the burden of chronic disease. This federal funding helps support Capital Metro’s tobacco-free policies and assists with resources to help employees and riders quit using tobacco. Learn more about CPPW at www.cdc.gov/CommunitiesPuttingPreventiontoWork.

How are  these tobacco-free policies being enforced?

The tobacco-free facilities policy is not designed as a punitive policy but one that we hope  promotes a cleaner, healthier environment at our transit facilities. Self-enforcement is expected, and may take time to become the norm.

Our transit field supervisors and other personnel are prepared to ask those violating the policy to leave the tobacco-free area or to stop using tobacco products at locations where there are repeat violations or whenever they observe someone violating the policy.

Any ongoing or repeated violations by an individual or group will be addressed just as any other violation of Capital Metro rules would be, to include the possibility of the issuance of a Criminal Trespass Warning for repeat offenders.

This is great for the transit centers, but what about the regular bus stops where people still smoke?

Capital Metro is interested in extending these protections to other bus stops. We are working with local leaders to explore the possibility of making these stops tobacco-free to protect the health and safety of our riders and the community.

2 thoughts on “Fresh air

  1. Robin

    It actually needs to be enforced. People are still lighting up at the N. Lamar Transit Center. Walking to/from our buses is difficult in the smoke.

    When I asked a staff member why the policy is not enforced, they said they don’t have enough people.

    Sorry. if this is actually the same as a criminal trespass, lack of enough personnel is not appropriate.

    Every personnel needs to enforce the policy passed by the board. Keeping a job is not a question of if you ‘like’ a policy.

  2. Will

    If Capital Metro puts this in place at regular bus stops, I will take Capital Metro to court regarding this matter. Right now I am advancing my Petition, Temporary Restraining Order, and Injunction to file in Bexar County County Court naming the City Of San Antonio, and Via Metropolitan Transit as Defendants. They have a ban that overreaches their home rule municpality onto that of others. Therefore due to their conflicting language in thier ordinance I will be challenging them next week!

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