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 All incorporated Texas municipalities with populations of greater than 5000 residentsAll municipalities in the East Texas Pilot Study of 2000 – 2002 (Texas Public Health Regions 4, 5, and 6) sponsored by the Texas Tobacco Prevention Initiative of Texas Department of State Health ServicesTexas municipalities of less than 5000 residents that have known SHS ordinancesRepresentation of each county by at least one municipality.  When no municipality with more than 5000 residents is identified as having an SHS ordinance in a county, the county seat is contacted and included in the study.  This insures that almost all counties in Texas are represented, although a few Texas counties do not have any incorporated cities and thus may not be included in the database.

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 balance of the variables are to be used for secondary analyses.  Only those variables included in the website reports are described in this methods section.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: Definitions/explanations of terms and scoring criteriaFive aspects of municipal ordinances used in one or more reports are defined and/or scoring criteria are described below:  A) ordinance background, B) focal settings where smoking is restricted; C) protection level for focal settings; D) setting details; and E) provisions for enforcement and penalties.  Each will be briefly described below.

A. Ordinance Background.  Documentation of the date of passage of the ordinance and/or amendments to the ordinance, the date on which the ordinance requirements become effective, and the date of review of the ordinance are important variables for tracking changes in the proportion of the state population protected from exposure to SHS smoke.

B. Focal settings with SHS protections.  Ordinances vary in their definitions of public places, as do methods of implementing protection against SHS 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.

Commercial and home-based child-care are not included as focal settings in reports on the website because Texas Regulations, effective September 2003, prohibit smoking in child-care homes and child-care centers. However, a summary of results of municipality coverage of child-care settings may be provided upon request.

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. Ratings of protection levels 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

Rating Descriptor Criteria
5 100% Smoke Free No smoking allowed in a particular setting.
4 Moderate 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.
3 Mixed 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.
2 Limited Designated smoking areas allowed or required.
1 No Coverage No restrictions on smoking in the stated setting, even if an SHS ordinance exists.

D. Setting Detail.Additional provisions are described that influence SHS protection in the focal settings.

1) Worksites.

2) Restaurants. 3) Bars  4) Radius from outside doors.   The ordinance explicitly exempts and/or restricts  smoking outside the doors of a restricted facility.  The distance in feet, if specified, also is recorded.E.Enforcement and Penalties.  The presence of an enforcement authority or penalty is scored "yes" if the ordinance specifies the following:  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. 

 Reports For Individual Municipalities

Details can then be found using the report option to select the text of the ordinance for the individual municipality.

 Summary Reports Across Multiple Municipalities

In the summary reports, the denominators for reported percentages are based on the total of known ordinances with SHS provisions within the scope selected (e.g., State, one or more Public Health Regions or Counties).  The number of ordinances in each report is cited at the top of that report

The groupings in the summary reports pertaining to restaurants, radius, worksites, enforcement and penalties are independently scored; no grouping totals should be inferred   


  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.