EDITORIAL: Take the lead on smoking ban, Mayor Ballard

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IBJ Editorial

Maddening? Disappointing? Choose your adjective. The failure of the latest proposal to prohibit smoking in almost all Indianapolis workplaces was clearly a setback for public health and a city that markets itself as a medical and life sciences hub.

But the years-long effort to clear the air isn’t over, just delayed. Smoking-ban advocates must dust themselves off and get back to work.

We appreciate the efforts of Republican City-County councilors Benjamin Hunter and Barbara Malone and Democrats Angela Mansfield, Jose Evans and Brian Mahern, the five sponsors of the proposal that was tabled Oct. 26 after it failed to receive the 15 votes necessary to pass or defeat it.

The sponsors are among 12 solid supporters of the measure, which would have extended the city’s smoking ban to include bars, bowling alleys and private clubs.

It’s almost inconceivable that three of the remaining 17 City-County councilors can’t be swayed to support a measure with so much to recommend it. The dangers of secondhand smoke are well-documented by the scientific community, and in the hundreds of cities and the majority of states that have already adopted the bans, there’s no evidence to suggest businesses are harmed.

But a handful of councilors aren’t the only ones standing in the way. Mayor Greg Ballard must come around as well. For the mayor to be seen as obstructionist on this issue puts him in an awkward spot.

His position is inconsistent with the city’s SustainIndy initiative, which touts the importance the city places on clean air and, to quote its Web site, “working with private partners to ensure that our community remains vibrant and healthy.”

Branding the city as environmentally progressive is also important to broader economic development efforts, including the push to enhance the city’s life sciences economy. The city’s smoky indoor spaces diminish those efforts and caused the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce to throw its support behind the smoking ban.

The longer the city waits to act, the more conspicuous its weak law becomes. Workers in more than half the country’s 20 largest cities are already protected, and among large cities in neighboring states, only Detroit’s workplaces remain smoky.

Closer to home, several smaller units of government have beaten Indianapolis to the punch, including the towns of Franklin, Plainfield and Zionsville.

It’s too late for the city to lead on this issue, but it can avoid falling further behind. If, as has been reported, Ballard isn’t behind the effort because of his reluctance to ban smoking in private clubs, such as those geared toward military veterans, he should forge a compromise the City-County Council can pass and he can sign.

Soon, the mayor and the holdout City-County councilors should join their peers and the city’s business community, its medical community and the majority of its residents in supporting a stronger ban.•


To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.


  • smoking

    SECOND HAND SMOKE IS A JOKE. Ask the anti-tobacco folks to tell you what truly is in second hand smoke...when it burns from the coal its oxygenated and everything is burned and turned into water vapor....... ...........that's right water..........you ever burned leaves in the fall...know how the heavy smoke bellows off.......that's the organic material releasing the moisture in the leaves the greener the leaves/organic material the more smoke that's made......that's why second hand smoke is classified as a class 3 irritant by osha and epa as of 2006........after that time EPA decided to change the listing of shs as a carcinogen for political reasons.......because it contained a trace amount of 6 chemicals so small even sophisticated scientific equipment can hardly detect it ........they didn't however use the normal dose makes the poison computation when they made this political decision. However osha still maintains shs/ets as an irritant only and maintains the dose makes the poison position.......as osha is in charge of indoor air quality its decisions are based on science not political agendas as epa's is. We can see this is true after a federal judge threw out the epa's study on shs as junk science......... Wednesday, March 12, 2008 British Medical Journal & WHO conclude secondhand smoke "health hazard" claims are greatly exaggerated The BMJ published report at:


    concludes that "The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer are considerably weaker than generally believed." What makes this study so significant is that it took place over a 39 year period, and studied the results of non-smokers who lived with smokers.....

    meaning these non-smokers were exposed to secondhand smoke up to 24 hours per day; 365 days per year for 39 years. And there was still no relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality. In light of the damage to business, jobs, and the economy from smoking bans the BMJ report should be revisited by lawmakers as a reference tool and justification to repeal the now unnecessary and very damaging smoking ban laws. Also significant is the World Health Organization (WHO) study:
    Today, 7:20:43 AM

    Passive smoking doesn't cause cancer-official By Victoria MacDonald, Health Correspondent " The results are consistent with their being no additional risk for a person living or working with a smoker and could be consistent with passive smoke having a protective effect against lung cancer. The summary, seen by The Telegraph, also states: 'There was no association between lung cancer risk and ETS exposure during childhood.' " And if lawmakers need additional real world data to further highlight the need to eliminate these onerous and arbitrary laws, air quality testing by Johns Hopkins University proves that secondhand smoke is up to 25,000 times SAFER than occupational (OSHA) workplace regulations.

    The Chemistry of Secondary Smoke About 94% of secondary smoke is composed of water vapor and ordinary air with a slight excess of carbon dioxide. Another 3 % is carbon monoxide. The last 3 % contains the rest of the 4,000 or so chemicals supposedly to be found in smoke�� but found, obviously, in very small quantities if at all.This is because most of the assumed chemicals have never actually been found in secondhand smoke. (1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 80). Most of these chemicals can only be found in quantities measured in nanograms, picograms and femtograms. Many cannot even be detected in these amounts: their presence is simply theorized rather than measured. To bring those quantities into a real world perspective, take a saltshaker and shake out a few grains of salt. A single grain of that salt will weigh in the ballpark of 100 million picograms! (Allen Blackman. Chemistry Magazine 10/08/01). - (Excerpted from "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains" with permission of the author.)

    The Myth of the Smoking Ban �â??Miracle�â?? Restrictions on smoking around the world are claimed to have had a dramatic effect on heart attack rates. It's not true. http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7451/

    As for secondhand smoke in the air, OSHA has stated outright that: "Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded." -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997
    Today, 7:21:19 AM

    7 October, the COT meeting on 26 October and the COC meeting on 18
    November 2004.


    "5. The Committees commented that tobacco smoke was a highly complex chemical mixture and that the causative agents for smoke induced diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, effects on reproduction and on offspring) was unknown. The mechanisms by which tobacco induced adverse effects were not established. The best information related to tobacco smoke - induced lung cancer, but even in this instance a detailed mechanism was not available. The Committees therefore agreed that on the basis of current knowledge it would be very difficult to identify a toxicological testing strategy or a biomonitoring approach for use in volunteer studies with smokers where the end-points determined or biomarkers measured were predictive of the overall burden of tobacco-induced adverse disease."

    In other words ... our first hand smoke theory is so lame we can't even design a bogus lab experiment to prove it. In fact ... we don't even know how tobacco does all of the magical things we claim it does.

    The greatest threat to the second hand theory is the weakness of the first hand theory.

    Science and Secondhand Smoke The Need for a Good Puff of Skepticism
    S I D N E Y Z I O N" 2007


    "The blueprint for this campaign dates to 1975 when British delegate Sir George Godber instructed the World Health Organization on how to get smokers to quit. As reported in "Passive Smoking: How Great the hazard", Sir George said, "it would be essential to foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily to the smoke in the air."

    It's an 8 page article that relates the history of the second hand smoke scam from it's origins right up until 2007. The whole thing has been an effort to control perceptions. Not Science ... Psy-ence

    It all began with Sir George Godber.

    Thanks John

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