Feb. 9 2012
Washington, DC — It is deeply disappointing that Mayor Greg Ballard has broken his campaign promise once again and decided to veto legislation that would protect all Indianapolis residents, workers and visitors from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. Mayor Ballard's decision denies everyone in Indianapolis their right to breathe clean air and harms both the city's health and its economic competitiveness. For now, it leaves Indianapolis as the largest city in the country without a smoke-free law that includes all restaurants and bars.
Mayor Ballard's decision disregards the views of the 70 percent of Indianapolis voters who support a law to make all restaurants, bars and other workplaces smoke-free.
We applaud the Indianapolis City-County Council for its leadership in enacting strong smoke-free legislation. If the Council is unable to override this veto, we urge Mayor Ballard to work with the Council to enact the strongest possible smoke-free law that covers all restaurants, bars and other workplaces.
Nationwide, 29 states, Washington, DC, and more than 640 cities have laws requiring smoke-free restaurants and bars. Most cities in the Midwest, including Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Milwaukee, are smoke-free. Indianapolis business leaders have argued this puts the city at a competitive disadvantage in attracting conventions, businesses, workers and tourists looking for a healthy, smoke-free environment.
The need for comprehensive smoke-free laws is clear. In issuing his 2006 groundbreaking report on secondhand smoke, 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 causes lung cancer, heart disease, 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.