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Town Hall promotes smoke-free workplaces

Friday, April 17, 2009

Members of the community showed support for the Clay County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition (CCTPCC) at a Town Hall meeting at the Clay County YMCA Thursday, which addressed the dangers of second-hand smoke in the workplace.

"Most smokers are very considerate of non-smokers," CCTPCC Program Director Kandace Brown told The Brazil Times after the meeting. "Smokers have the right to smoke and people have the right not to be exposed to smoke, it's a balancing act of ensuring both of those rights and it can be done."

Representatives of the community spoke of the impact that second-hand smoke has played in their lives.

"I am a former smoker and I quit in order to set a good example for my nieces and nephews," Clay County Health Department Public Health Nurse Diane Dierks said. "One of the saddest things to see is children coming into the health office and reeking of secondhand smoke."

Dierks went on to explain how there are 1.1 million smokers in Indiana and $390 million is spent per year on healthcare costs related to second-hand smoke. She continued to explain that recent studies show businesses do not lose money by going smoke free, but have an increase in profit.

Nick Johnson, a Junior at Clay City Jr./Sr. High School, spoke on behalf of the Project VOICE movement.

"I was born with a heart defect, and I have learned that my condition can be exasperated by second-hand smoke," he said.

Johnson added some 50,000 non-smokers die annually in the United States due to a second-hand smoke triggers related illness.

"In 2007, 1194 Hoosiers died from diseases definitively tied to second-hand smoke," he said.

First United Methodist Church Pastor Rev. Tony Alstott spoke on the importance of leading the way for the rest of the state to follow.

"I am so proud of the community. When I arrived here seven years ago, methamphetamine was taking over," he said. "If we had waited on the state to decide what to do, we might still be waiting. With smoking, we could wait for the state or we could go to the roots and be ahead of them on this too."

Alstott talked about how being a pastor has helped to shape his views on second-hand smoke.

"In my job, I spend a lot of time with people at the end of their life and those with a background in a smoking environment suffer greatly," he said. "As a member of the community and the church I want nothing but joyful times for people together. I would like to see those that do not choose to smoke to not be around it."

Tobacco Policy Consultant Tim Filler spoke about the economic impact second-hand smoke has on the state and in the workplace.

"By asking for second-hand smoke to be removed from the workplace, it isn't us picking on smokers," he said. "It is simply asking them to go outside, or to not do it in the environment. Ventilation only moves air around, it doesn't eliminate health risks due to second-hand smoke."

Second-hand smoke can cause health problems that may never be able to be fixed as in the case of St. Vincent Clay Hospital CEO Jerry Laue.

"I found out in college that my lungs were underdeveloped," he said. "I was an athlete and in physical form, but my parents smoked and the second-hand smoke caused my lungs to not develop properly."

The town hall was an educational forum for the community, and many people walked away learning something new.

"I am extremely appreciative of the panel and emcee Dr. Kirk Freeman, who directed the panel and addressed the community," Brown said. "They show true compassion and concern for the health of the community."

She also commented on how it was an excellent first step in many steps to come, in creating a smoke-free environment for all workers.

"The state is looking at the desires and wants of the communities in regards to a smoke-free work place," she said. "We are not looking to them for guidance and as the panel addressed the subject tonight the numbers tell us in surveys that the majority of communities believe that people have the right to a smoke-free environment."

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Illinois is a good place to "study". As can be clearly seen by those of us living near the state line over the last year, Illinois smokers have been giving the casinos, bars, and restaurants in surrounding states their full support and blessing with their feet and their money. Had the antis done the same as Illinois smokers have done by supporting the non smoking Illinois casinos (down over 20 percent), restaurants, and bars instead of ranting and raving, people might pay attention to them. As it stands, claims about bans not hurting businesses are falling on a lot of deaf ears. They need to put their money where their mouth is. The lobbyists are losing credibility everywhere they travel with their exaggerted claims.

-- Posted by generalsn on Sun, Apr 19, 2009, at 8:38 AM

They did the smoking ban thing in Dayton, Ohio and now (what a shock!!) it is being REPEALED!!! Seems the "studies" weren't entirely accurate and the business owners who suffered from this ban are now banding together (bars, restaurants) and getting their customer base back. So enough with the regulations, if you are so sure you will drop dead from someone at work smoking outside, then you need mental help for dealing with hypochondria. Give me a break! Geesh!

-- Posted by karenmeister on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 4:51 PM

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