University of Houston HLPI

Texas Smoke-Free Ordinance Database

Guidelines for Review and Analysis of Texas Municipal Second Hand Smoke (SHS) Ordinances

I. Criteria for Requesting Ordinance Documents

The inclusion criteria for this research are as follows:

Please note that this research is not designed to include all Texas municipalities.

II. Analysis Procedures

Based on results of review of the research literature,1-4 the difficulties of coding complex and often ambiguous language in tobacco-control laws, and months of trial, error, discussion, and resolution, the project team adopted a two-reviewer system for each ordinance. Results are entered into a database and selected variables from the database are used to generate the website reports.The guidelines presented in this document were developed for purpose of research and evaluation of tobacco control and are not intended to be a legal opinion.

III. Review and Analysis

This research generates reports on three aspects of municipal smoking ordinances: A) ordinance background, B) focal settings where smoking is restricted, and C) protection level for focal settings. Each will be briefly described below.

A. Ordinance Background

Historical information on the development of smoking ordinances is important for tracking changes in the proportion of the state population protected from exposure to second hand smoke, expansion of locations included in those protections, and the ways municipal smoking ordinances evolve over time.

B. Focal Settings Where Smoking Restricted

Ordinances vary in their definitions. Ordinances also vary in their methods of implementing protection against second-hand smoke in these locations.Because of these variations, comparing across settings and communities can be difficult.To assist in examination, the following categorizations of focal settings are used for review and analysis on this website:

The term bars refers to an ordinance designation of bars, lounges, taverns, cabarets, nightclubs, private clubs, cocktail lounges, or other establishments with alcohol for on-premise consumption. If the ordinance makes no distinction between restaurant bars and/or non-restaurant facilities, it is assumed that any noted restrictions or exemptions apply equally to both. When bar type is differentiated, either by reference to both bars in restaurants and in other places or reference to only one type of bar, restaurant bars are scored separately from bars not in restaurants.

Because ordinances vary in definitions of "public places," when an ordinance states a uniform standard (e.g., smoke-free) for all public settings, restaurants and bars are so classified, barring other restrictions or exemptions in the ordinance.However, when the definition of public places specifically indicates other settings but contains no references to restaurants or bars, they will not be scored as covered.

C. Protection Level for Focal Settings

For each setting, a rating and a descriptor are assigned to indicate the extent to which the ordinance helps to protect from SHS exposure. The ratings are as follows:





100% Smoke Free

No smoking allowed in a particular setting



Designated smoking areas are allowed if separately ventilated. The owner or manager may choose to be smoke free or designate separately or independently ventilated smoking areas



Either no smoking is allowed OR designated smoking areas are allowed if separately or independently ventilated, but coverage is partial due to exceptions, ambiguities, or legal issues



Designated smoking areas allowed or required


No Coverage

No restrictions on smoking in the stated setting, even if an SHS ordinance exists

IV. Website Reports Generated

Analyses of the ordinances are combined with demographic information about the municipalities obtained from the Office of the State Demographer and the Texas Department of State Health Services to generate reports at two levels:A) Individual Municipalities and B) Summaries Across Multiple Municipalities. Only current SHS ordinances with at least one of the five focal settings specifically stated are included in summary reports that span multiple municipalities.

All population and minority percentage data are derived from data from the U.S. 2010 Census.

A. Individual Municipalities

B. Summaries Across Multiple Municipalities.

·Summary Profile – Ordinances with at least one of the five focal settings specifically stated are used in summary reports.The summary reports provide aggregate information in the same categories included in individual municipality reports.

Percent of municipalities with various ordinance features is based on the number of municipalities included in the database and not the state (see “Criteria” section above).The total number of municipalities in each report is included in each report title. The groupings in the summary reports pertaining to restaurants, radius, worksites, enforcement and penalties are independently scored; no grouping totals should be inferred.

Before using data generated by these reports, please review our Disclaimer. If you have additional questions, please contact Our Team.


  1. Fishman J, Harmony A, Knowles S, Fishburn B, Woolery T, Marx W, Shelton D, Husten C, Ericksen M (1999)State Laws on Tobacco Control – United States, 1998, MMWR 25, 1999/ 48(SS03);21-62.
  2. National Cancer Institute (2000) State and local legislative action to reduce tobacco use, Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph 11, NIH Pub. No. 00-4804.
  3. Smoke free ordinances (1998-2002) American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.
  4. Chriqui J, Frosh M, Brownson R, Shelton D, Sciandra R, Hobart R, Fisher P, el Arculli R, Alciata M (2002).Application of a rating system to State clean indoor air laws (USA), Tobacco Control, 11:26-34.

These guidelines were developed by University of Houston, Health Network for Evaluation and Training Systems (HNETS) under a contract from the Texas Department of State Health Services for fiscal years 2000-2008.