Armstrong versus secondhand smoke

The Chron had an interview earlier this week with Lance Armstrong, in which they discussed his current focus on getting a statewide ban on smoking in public places passed.

Q: What made you want to join the Smoke-Free Texas initiative?

A: Smoke-Free Texas is a logical extension of what we’ve done with Proposition 15. Polls overwhelmingly show that the people of Texas want smoking banned from public places. The science on secondhand smoke is overwhelming. I don’t want to infringe on the rights of what people do on their own time, but you shouldn’t smoke in public places. You can’t risk others’ lives.

Q: There’s so much positive news about Americans beating cancer. Yet the news recently was that, worldwide, cancer is expected to overtake heart disease as the world’s top killer by 2010, which isn’t far away. They cite increased tobacco use in China and India. Any chance you will take your initiatives worldwide?

A: Cities all over the world — in Ireland, France, Germany — are banning public smoking. But you’re right, smoking is increasing in China and India. I suppose big tobacco has to take its marketing efforts somewhere.

Q: As you’ve worked on behalf of cancer research funding, you’ve gone into meetings with physicians, scientists and economists — yet you’re the guy everyone wants to hear from. Does that surprise you?

A: You mean that they want to talk to a guy from Plano on a bike? (laughs). People know I take this very seriously. I can talk about it at great length without being a physician or economist or scientist. I understand the disease and am comfortable talking with anyone.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to tell Texans?

A: This is an important measure for this session. It ties in real well with the cancer initiative it created. The headline should be that Texas is leading the way. In Texas, with M.D. Anderson, UT, Baylor and all the other great hospitals, we’re suited to truly change lives.

I’ve noted Armstrong’s involvement in this effort before. Whether you agree with him or not, having Armstrong on board with this is going to be a big plus for the proponents of this legislation. Anyone who can get a proposal for three billion dollars in cancer research funds through the Lege and approved by the voters, all on their first try, is a force to be reckoned with.

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