Jan. 31 2012
Washington, D.C. — The Indianapolis City-County Council last night delivered a long-awaited victory for health and the public's right to breathe clean air by voting to make all restaurants and bars and most other workplaces smoke-free. We urge Mayor Greg Ballard to sign this legislation into law and protect all Indianapolis residents and workers from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. Mayor Ballard should reconsider his threat to veto the legislation unless it is weakened by adding even more exemptions. Polling has shown that 70 percent of Indianapolis voters support a law to make all restaurants, bars and other workplaces smoke-free.
With the nation's eyes on the city as it hosts the Super Bowl, there is no better time for Indianapolis to set a positive example for health and join the growing list of great cities that are smoke-free. Indianapolis is one of the largest U.S. cities without a strong smoke-free law that includes restaurants and bars. Nationwide, 29 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and more than 640 cities have laws requiring smoke-free restaurants and bars. As the Indianapolis City-County Council recognized, no one should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night out.
Background on Secondhand Smoke and Smoke-Free Laws
The need for protection from secondhand smoke in all workplaces and public places has never been clearer. In issuing a groundbreaking report on secondhand smoke in June 2006, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona stated, "The debate is over. The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard that causes premature death and disease in children and nonsmoking adults."
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. The Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year, there is no safe level of exposure, and only smoke-free laws provide effective protection. The evidence is also clear that smoke-free laws protect health without harming business.