Apr. 17 2012
Washington, D.C. — The Indianapolis City-County Council tonight again delivered a victory for the public's right to breathe clean air by voting to make all restaurants and bars and most other workplaces smoke-free. We applaud the Council for its leadership and perseverance in working to improve the city's health, and we urge Mayor Greg Ballard to sign this legislation into law. It's time to protect all Indianapolis residents and workers from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke.
Polling shows that 70 percent of Indianapolis voters support a law to make all restaurants, bars and other workplaces smoke-free. Going smoke-free now is right for Indianapolis. Indianapolis is currently the largest U.S. city 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 650 cities have such laws. 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.
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.