July 1 marked the five-year anniversary of Indiana’s state smoke-free air law. This law was a milestone for the state of Indiana in protecting thousands of Hoosiers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, it also left many workers unprotected. The progressive cities of Hamilton County have the opportunity to make up for what the state smoke-free air law is lacking—to cover all public venues, including bars and membership clubs.
Two cities, Carmel and Westfield, passed what’s now the state law a few years prior to 2012. All Hamilton County cities are leaders that promote commerce, cultivate thriving communities and foster health, making them the envy of other counties and cities throughout the state and the nation. They embrace healthy living by building complete streets that invite walkability, address the stigma of mental health, invite youth athletics and design world-class, often smoke-free, parks. Why can’t one or all of these cities, or the county as a whole, take the next step in health by adopting smoke-free air policies that protect employees no matter where they work?
I could bring up how smoke-free air laws positively affect health and protect our economy, but in Hamilton County, it’s about leadership. Our cities have a healthy competitiveness that keeps them on the cutting edge. The question, or perhaps challenge, becomes which of these cities will add smoke-free air to its list of firsts.